Imagine you have a meeting in Philadelphia, but you're driving from New Jersey – so traffic has slowed you. Late, you speed up when you can, only to hear the sirens wail behind you. You are cited for speeding and then allowed to continue to your meeting. Later, you wonder what this traffic ticket might mean since you have a New Jersey driver's license. Here's an overview of what out-of-state drivers should know when they are ticketed or charged with a traffic offense in Pennsylvania.
The Driver License Compact: Sharing Driver Information
Like most states, Pennsylvania is a member of the Driver License Compact. This Compact is an agreement where member states (currently 44 states) share information on traffic convictions, driving records, driver licenses, and other information relevant to drivers in each state. This means if a non-resident driver is ticketed for a traffic offense in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will share that information with the driver's state of residence – so long as that state is a member.
Alongside Pennsylvania, New Jersey is a member of the Driver License Compact and has been since 1967 when the state enacted legislation to join (N.J.S.A. 39:5D-1 et seq.).
Ticketed in Pennsylvania: What New Jersey Drivers Should Expect
When a New Jersey resident is ticketed in Pennsylvania for traffic offenses, which are mostly moving violations, New Jersey receives that information from Pennsylvania automatically -- or should. For the purpose of suspension, revocation, or limitations on a person's driving privileges, New Jersey is supposed to treat the Pennsylvania ticket the same as if the violation occurred in New Jersey – this can result in greater or fewer consequences, depending on the rules and laws of New Jersey.
Three specific points should be distinguished with respect to New Jersey drivers and Pennsylvania traffic offenses:
Traffic Violations & Fines. When the traffic offense is a moving violation (e.g., failure to stop at a traffic light, failure to yield the right of way, speeding, reckless driving, or driving without a suspended license), Pennsylvania will charge you a fine. You are responsible to pay that fine to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Instructions to pay the fine are typically explained on the ticket itself.
Traffic Violations & Points. When a New Jersey driver is ticketed in Pennsylvania, the State of New Jersey will impose its point system on the individual driver's record and not the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This typically means two points are added, but depending on the severity of the violation, you could receive up to eight points per moving violation. The NJ Points Schedule outlines the points for each offense. If you accumulate six or more points in New Jersey on your driving record, you will be assessed a surcharge. An accumulation of 12 or more points will result in license suspension. Your auto insurance will also likely go up. If you are ticketed in Pennsylvania but have a New Jersey driver's license, only New Jersey can impose points on your record; Pennsylvania cannot.
- Criminal Charges. Many traffic offenses can result in criminal charges, like driving under the influence (DUI). When a New Jersey driver is ticketed with a moving violation and charged with a criminal traffic offense, you will have to face the Pennsylvania criminal system even if you are a resident of New Jersey. That means going to court in Pennsylvania.
Are You a New Jersey Driver Ticketed in Pennsylvania? The Lento Law Firm Can Help
Pennsylvania and New Jersey are good neighbors. For the purpose of things like travel, commerce, and entertainment, New Jersey residents drive to or through Pennsylvania. If you are ticketed in Pennsylvania, contact Joseph Lento, a trusted and resourceful traffic offense attorney in Pennsylvania, either online or at 215.535.5353. He will review the circumstances of your case, guide you through the process, and defend against any citations or charges laid against you.