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Canadian Drivers and US Traffic Tickets: How Does A US Ticket Affect You?

November 5, 2012

Car InsuranceCross-border traffic between the U.S. and Canada is very common, and many Canadians visiting the U.S. choose to drive over the border rather than fly, especially if visiting a border state. If you’re heading over the border to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family or friends, there are a few important things to know. Traffic laws in the States are relatively similar to those in Canada, and Canadian drivers licenses as well as Canadian car insurance are valid in the U.S., so you can cross the border without needing extra coverage. But what happens if you get a ticket?

There was a time when getting a traffic ticket in the United States would not affect the driver’s record in Canada. In fact, there was nothing to stop a driver from walking away from the ticket without paying the fine or bothering to contest it. Today, what will happen depends on where the ticket was received and the agreement that state has with your home province.

Reciprocal Agreements Between States and Provinces

Some states and provinces have reciprocal agreements through which information is exchanged regarding traffic tickets. If your home province and the state you received the ticket in have such an agreement, the ticket will be reported to your province’s driver licensing agency and you may see demerit points on your license as a result. This could in turn affect your insurance premiums. If you receive a ticket, you should get insurance quotes from other insurance companies to find the lowest rate available for your driving profile.

While some progress has been made towards creating an agreement that covers all of the states and provinces, currently there is no one agreement in place that encompasses every possible location. Individual states and provinces have instead worked out their own agreements. It is likely that an agreement encompassing both nations will become a reality in the future.

Do You Have to Pay U.S. Fines?

If you receive a traffic ticket in the United States that comes with a fine, you should either pay the fine or arrange to attend traffic court in order to dispute the ticket. For some people this can be complicated – if you are not planning to be in the state long enough to attend court, for example.

For most traffic tickets, there is not much in the way of recourse if you choose not to pay that ticket. Bear in mind however that if you choose to ignore a traffic ticket, you may find yourself facing much more serious legal consequences if you return to that state at another time in the future. If that state does have a reciprocal agreement with your home province, you may receive the demerit points whether or not you pay the fine. If you do successfully fight the ticket, you could avoid the demerit points.

If you have broken the laws of the state in which you are driving, it is in your best interest to pay the fine and accept the responsibility. Even if there is no agreement and it does not affect your license, there could be legal consequences in the future if you fail to pay a fine.

Be Aware of the Law

As a driver entering another country, it’s your responsibility to know the laws of the road in that location. You can’t be expected to know every detail of the law, but be sure that you pay attention to speed limits and follow all posted street signs. Drive carefully and cautiously, and you shouldn’t find yourself facing a traffic ticket at all.

Remember that if you are pulled over by an officer of the law in the United States, you should behave in the same manner that you would at home. Don’t argue a ticket on the scene, be respectful of the officer, and accept responsibility. You can look into your options in regards to fighting or paying the ticket after the traffic stop is completed.

Before you head across the border to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones to the south, make sure you have a general idea of the rules of the road in any state you plan to cross through or spend time in. The best way to avoid dealing with a traffic ticket in the U.S. is to make sure you don’t break any rules and therefore don’t get pulled over in the first place.

  • Jean Brijlall

    I got a speeding ticket in the US going 80 miles in a 65 zone on Route 87 going towards New York. How would this affect my record here. Thank you. Jean

  • Nick – InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello Jean,

    Some Canadian provinces have reciprocal agreements with some States. This means that the state will report tickets to the home province of the driver. Check with your provincial Ministry of Transportation website to see if New York has an arrangement with your province.

    Thank you.

  • Fer

    Hi Nick,
    I’m from Ontario and I received a parking ticket while in Niagara Falls, NY. It was about $35, but the thing is they only give you 3 days to pay it, which is very little if you don’t live in that country. I went to their website to see if I could pay for it online but there’s no information about parking tickets on the website. I hope they still accept the money order I send, but it’s a day late. Would the parking ticket affect me in the first place?

  • Nick – InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello Fer,

    Parking tickets do not affect your insurance rate.

    Thank you

  • ALRO

    Got three parking tickets in the city of Boston back in July 2010. Living in Quebec I just ignored them since I felt most were unfair and I had to pay 150$ for being towed. Now I m wondering I am going to cross the border in new york state in a few weeks might there be a problem i am using same car and plates.

  • InsuranceHotline
  • AB

    hi, i got a speeding ticket in the city of Boston with my Quebec driving license which i will pay. but now i am in the process of changing my driving license to Bostonian one, so would they remove point from me? or even would it show in my record. i contacted many people and apparently no body knows, please help.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    I am sorry but I cannot answer what the laws are in Boston. You could try checking with the state.

  • http://www.proffer.ca/ Proffer.ca

    Helpful post, this is why traffic tickets should always be dealt with any never ignored.

    http://proffer.ca/financial-impact-of-a-traffic-ticket-conviction/

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hi Niki,

    Some states have reciprocal agreements with Ontario, and some do not. You can ask your insurance professional (broker/agent) about the specifics around your policy and the ticket from New York.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    You are best to check with the transportation division in Washington.

    Thank you

  • JG

    Hi there,

    My girlfriend ran I stop sign in Texas and has a Quebec driver’s license. She goes to school in Texas but is away during the holidays. Cop told her she has 10 business days to pay the fine or dispute it in court. I recommend she doesn’t dispute. She will be back before the 10 business days are so no worry there. My questions are? What will that do to her Quebec demerit points? She also was driving a friend’s car, will that be an extra fine?

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    Not all of the states in the US report on tickets received by Canadians. You are best to check with the Ministry of Transport in Quebec to see if they have a reciprocal agreement with Texas.
    Thank you

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    You would be best to find out from your province if they have a reciprocal agreement with New York. Some provinces do and if yours is one of them, both the original ticket as well as a ‘non-payment’ could be reflected on your driving record.

    Thank you

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    That is a good question. You should check with the state that you will be visiting to find out.

    Thank you

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    You are best to check with the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca. I am not sure if the state of Georgia has a reciprocal agreement with Ontario whereby they report tickets to each other.

    Thank you

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    In most provinces unpaid parking tickets affect the registration of your vehicle and not your driving record.

    I know if you have unpaid parking tickets on a vehicle registered in Ontario you may not be able to renew your licence plate until they are paid.

    I don’t believe that parking ticket information is exchanged within provinces or states.

    Thanks

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    You are likely going to have to mail a cheque. Not all county’s in Florida allow internet payments.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    You can check with the Ministry of Transportation to see if Ontario has a reciprocal agreement with Virginia to share ticket information.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    You can pull your own driving record from the Ministry of Transportation in your province. You will see if that ticket is on your record.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Hello

    It is unlikely that it will affect you as the owner of the vehicle was issued the ticket-not you.

  • Jake

    Short question, if I get a ticket in Florida, is my Quebec license going to get some demerit points from it? (I will pay the ticket, I just wouldn’t like to get the demerit points).

  • darren

    I got a ticket in nevada but im from canada and i lost the ticket. i have no clue what to do because i dont remember what city it was in either.. help pleeeaaassseee

  • Adam McNally

    I got a speeding ticket in New York and I’m from Ontario. I haven’t paid it yet but will I be able to cross the
    border?

  • Al

    Hi! I am a commercial truck driver and I got a ticket for a logbook violationback in 2002, I stop writing stateside about a month later so I never paid it. I am wondering what would happen if I tried to cross the border? I’m not sure how to find if the ticket still exists or how to go about paying it.

  • keith

    i got a speeding ticket in Fountain hills ,Arizona ,just wondering if it will follow me to Toronto, Canada

  • jigar

    i got ticket in usa hwy 90 for speeding 65 mph zone i drive 86 mph.and i am not aware that ontario and newyork share ticket info to each other so i plead guilty and court give me $300 fine and after i got 6 point and 300 driver responsibility assesment .so i hired lawyer and lawyer convert my ticket into parking ticket and after i got latter from responsibility you don’t have to pay assesment but 6 points already in my ontario record and there is no point in new york record but now my question is how they share information with each other is it online ? what should i do to remove point from ontario record?

  • jigar

    i got ticket in usa hwy 90 for speeding 65 mph zone i drive 86 mph.and i am not aware that ontario and newyork share ticket info to each other so i plead guilty and court give me $300 fine and after i got 6 point and 300 driver responsibility assesment .so i hired lawyer and lawyer convert my ticket into parking ticket and after i got latter from responsibility you don’t have to pay assesment but 6 points already in my ontario record and there is no point in new york record but now my question is how they share information with each other is it online ? what should i do to remove point from ontario record?

  • Ashutosh Jain

    Hi Jigar. The same case happened to me and I have just pleaded guilty. I was caught driving at 91 MPH. Can you please let me know what happened in your case next?

  • Cameron Dening

    If I have unpaid tickets in Alberta, will I have trouble crossing the border by vehicle? There and back? Anyone know

  • Cara

    Hello,

    I got a speeding ticket in the state of NY in 2008. I live in Québec and after a few years it did in fact show up on my drivers’ record but has not caused me any problems here. I never paid the ticket and am wondering if I will have issues if I attempt to cross the border in the state of NY even if it is just as a passenger? Will it show up when my passport is scanned?

  • solomon okwueze

    I recently got a ticket in New York but have Ontario driving Plate and licence, I was going 79 in 55mph. the cop asked me to plead guilt because I will not be able to attend the court, which I did. Now they sent me a letter that I have 6point on my licence and to pay a fine of $295. I’m thinking to hiring a lawyer to fight it, so as to remove the point on my licence. Anyone know a lawyer , I can talk to?
    Thanks

  • Rina Liddle

    Is a parking ticket a traffic ticket?

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Parking tickets do not impact your insurance rate.

  • Eric

    Hi I was just recently in Vancouver, BC and I live in WA State. I received a ticket for having tinted windows. Are they allowed to ticket me for that when officers in the US have never issued me a ticket for that? What would happen if I chose not to pay for it?

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    I’m not sure if BC & WA have a reciprocal agreement where they share ticket information. You should check with your state.

  • Sophie

    Question. I have a speeding ticket where I live and I got it a few months ago and do to financial issues I still have not paid it. Will it affect me when I go down to Seattle to see my relatives?

  • Victoria

    Hello!
    I got speeding ticket in NY state 5 years ago. I am from Ontario, Canada. And, i still didn’t pay the ticket. Now, i want to cross the border to USA for vacation. does tickets has expire date or i have to pay anyway?

  • Katherine.Iles

    Hi Victoria,

    Thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, this issue is a little outside our expertise, but we did do a quick search for you and we found this http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/why-should-i-pay-a-us-speeding-ticket/article536203/. Hope this helps!

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    You should contact the state of NY to be sure.

  • kathleen

    hi,
    i got a speeding ticket in the state of New york over 15years ago and never paid it. Is it still on the record? I was wondering as i got refused my nexus card. Thanks for any help.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    That’s a question that you should ask that State of New York

  • Jaime Blair

    Hi do I have to pay the Drivers Responsibility Assessment fee even after I paid my Ticket, I am a Canadian citizen and live in Toronto…..I find $293 dollars for the ticket and $300 dollars for Assessment fee is quite a lot of money. please help.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    you should probably speak to a ticket expert like Pointts or one of those firms.

  • Raja Singh

    Question :)
    I went to California was in a gated community got a ticket from security for speeding, never paid the ticket. I’m visiting Cali again what should i do ? I’m renting a car when i get there too.

  • Woody Woodard Vt

    Recently a close friend of mine passed away, in going through his things i found a parking meter ticket he got in Montreal over 25 years ago when he borrowed my car to go to Montreal, he never told me about it or paid it i guess, it was for 80.00 dollars, would i have a problem if i went to Canada and maybe got stopped or at the border…..Its a long time ago but you never know…..

  • http://zarkbed.blogspot.com zark

    I got a speeding ticket in Blaine, Wa, for driving 30 mile in the 25mile school zone. 8 yrs ago. There was no one there except the policeman hiding behind a bush.
    Fe gave me a ticket for $295.00 for which I said I have no money and I would pay it in court next time. He was probably right, as my car goes 30m while idling.
    I ignored it for awhile and then i got summons for a more increased amount.
    I ignored that and and a few after that. Then I wrote to the Judge and told him that I’m retired person and don’t have that type of money and if necessary I will never go back to Blaine to by my vitamins and supplements and few other things I was buying.
    The judge was sympathetic and sent me a letter cancelling my fee. I thanked him for that
    5 years later, I started receiving requests from the collection agencies to pay my “obligation”.
    I ignore that too, because I cannot locate the letter from the Judge.
    This comment was typed by my niece because i’m now slowing down mentally.
    So how do I get the collection agency off my back ? The fee has gone up substantially
    Nevertheless, I have never gone to Blaine again in spite of the Judges letter. I just lost interest in purchases across the border.

  • Laura

    Hello thank you for the helpful information!
    I was on a M1 visa for school in California and drove with my Canadian licence. Is there a way to ensure that I don’t have any tickets from there? Would have been sent in the mail to my alberta residence?

  • Angie

    Hi, I got a ticket for speeding at 75 in a 65 zone. The fine is of 150$ but then there is a surcharge of 93$ and then a scofflaw lift fee of 70$, so now I have to pay a total of 313$ I am wondering if there is a way to reduce this amount?

  • InsuranceHotline

    you will have to go to court to see if they will reduce the amount.

  • ken

    Does Florida have an agreement with the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario? I have relative that had a speeding ticket in FL and she says she will not pay the fine. I am worried for her.

  • InsuranceHotline

    you should check the ministry of transportation website. they should have a list of the provinces and states that Ontario has an agreement with.

  • Renee Ruth

    what if I have alcohol related offenses in montana and I am trying to get my learners in alberta? mind you, these offenses happened over 10 years ago, and I have been in Canada all my life, have no intention of returning to U.S.A. Canada is my home….please tell me there is a way…..thanks

  • InsuranceHotline

    you should check with the Alberta ministry of transportation. they may have a reciprocal agreement to let Alberta know of those types of offenses.

  • Anshul Arora

    Hi,

    I just received a traffic ticket yesterday in New York State (about 50 miles from Buffalo). My license belongs to Toronto (Ontario). My ticket doesn’t state any fines just information and court address. Although, when the officer asked me about the reason for speeding (and he witnessed as well), I said my mother was very sick and had to take her ASAP to the near by exit so she can rest and he mentioned this thing down on the ticket.
    What should I do?

  • Pete Aid

    Hello Anshul,
    Can you tell me what did you do with your case? Did you get a court date? did you fight the ticket or you plead guilty?
    Thank you for answering. I have almost similar case and I just need to know what to do. Well Actually I was not doing 85 over 55, but the officer insisted that I was, and he did not agree to show me his radar readings…
    Thanks

  • Pete Aid

    Hello Again…
    I am not sure if any is on this forum, My court date is in 2 weeks and I am not sure how to go about it… Does anyone have the same case here? I am Canadian and I got a Uniform Summons and Complaint with court date in the state of Maine. So far I consulted 3 US Lawyers, one is saying to plead guilty (but I am not sure of the outcomes) and the other two are willing to represent me and fight the ticket, but also I am not sure if it is worth paying the lawyer fees or the ticket fine or I end up paying both together…

    If anyone had the same experience please share with us your case.
    Thank you

  • eddy

    can a us dot well in canada give me a canadin truck driver a ticket if there not in there own country

  • AC

    Hi, I was wondering if i got a ticket in the US but live in Canada, which demerit points would apply? For example, if the demerit points for the offence is 3 in the US and 4 in Canada, which would apply to me?

  • InsuranceHotline

    It depends on which state you got the ticket in.
    Subsection 198 (1) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act extends to and applies to judgments rendered and become final against residents by any court of competent jurisdiction in the following Provinces and States:

    Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennesse, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virgina, Wisconsin, Wyoming and District of Columbia.

  • InsuranceHotline

    It is possible that the DMV in California will notify the transportation ministry in Alberta.
    if that happens your family member may see a significant increase in their premium.

  • InsuranceHotline

    the parking ticket won’t have an effect on your insurance rate. If Detroit forward’s the information to the MTO you will have to pay it.

  • Sebastian Hortiguela

    Can I move to a different country and start from scratch with a new liscence if I have convictions in Ontario? And will my convictions affect my insurance in the foreign country?

  • InsuranceHotline

    If the country that you are moving to has an agreement with canada to exchange information. I believe that Canada only has agreements with some of the US states.

  • Victoria Harkness

    How can I pay a traffic ticket when I live in Canada and lost my ticket it’s from West Virginia but can’t remember which city

  • Tareq Xorzi

    I’m living in london ontario how can I now if I will get tekit because I crossed the bus school is there any website can used to know if I charged or not

  • InsuranceHotline

    you can check with the Ministry of Transportation at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca. You can pay for a copy of your ticket history.

  • InsuranceHotline

    New York has a reciprocal agreement with Ontario so if there are outstanding fines or tickets, these may show up on your Ontario driving record.

  • Carang

    Hello I got a speeding ticket in Az I’m guilty but what I don’t understand why I have to paid fee assessment and fee court when I don’t even going to court this is ridiculous I’m from Alberta can someone advise me how can I reduce this fees

  • p s

    I think west virginia has a web site for traffic tickets , you can seatch for the date of your ticket or name, you may have to check multiple county’s , i have paid with credit card, but depends on ticket

  • Xxcoolgirl_ cutie

    Hi, I got a speeding ticket at Michigan while I hold a licence from Ontario. Do I get affected by points at my abstract in Ontario?

  • InsuranceHotline

    It could since the state of Michigan has a reciprocal agreement with Ontario that they will share traffic violations.

  • maria andro

    Hi , I got a speeding ticket in NY state from a trooper about 20yrs, it was then over $300. I did not pay it. Would it be still on record?

  • InsuranceHotline

    Since most provinces have reciprocal agreements with some of the states that border Canada it’s possible that your Ministry of Transportation in New Brunswick will learn of your speeding ticket in Maine.

  • karthik nalla

    Hi, i am a canadian and I got speeding ticket in new york for doing 40 on 30 miles road, i was charged 193$ fine with 3 demerit points. Will it effect on my licence history in ontario?

  • InsuranceHotline

    New York has a reciprocal agreement with Ontario. They report tickets that are issued in their state back to the Ministry on Transportation in Ontario. So it will show on your Ontario record.

  • sling74

    Hi, I recently got a ‘no seat belt driver’ ticket in New York (I live in Toronto). I was literally pulling out of a parking area and was about to put my seat belt on, but the police officer was parked right outside of the parking area, and pulled me over the second that I was on the main road. My questions….

    1. Would it be better to ignore this ticket (i.e. I don’t even bother pleading ‘not guilty’), or respond within the 15 days by pleading ‘not guilty’?

    2. If I ignore the ticket (i.e. I don’t even bother pleading ‘not guilty’), will ignoring the ticket for this type of offence (no seat belt) result in demerit points in Ontario?

    3. Will this type of offence (fine $$ and demerits) follow me under the reciprocal agreement (NY / ONT), or is this type of offence one of the odd ones that won’t get transferred over?

    4. I read that if the police officer does not appear in court, the charges will be dismissed. How likely is this to occur (i.e. the officer not appearing)?

    Thanks to anyone who has answers to one or more of the above. :)

  • InsuranceHotline

    1) it’s never a good idea to ignore a ticket
    2 & 3) This ticket will follow you and be recorded on your Ontario driver’s licence and the demerits applied to your licence
    4) i don’t know how often police officers do not appear in court.

  • InsuranceHotline

    It will be reflected on your Ontario licence. Virginia and Ontario have reciprocal agreements to exchange traffic tickets.

  • InsuranceHotline

    Thanks for the post. It’s interesting because I have seen it on driving records in the past. It’s possible that depending on the severity of the infraction, the state might contact the province. I’ll keep digging. Thanks again

  • InsuranceHotline

    you should pay the ticket as it’s likely that there is a reciprocal agreement between Ontario and New Jersey to share traffic ticket information.