The information below will help you better understand the role that out-of-state traffic ticket play in Tennessee and New York.
Tennessee assesses points for out-of-state convictions
- New York traffic convictions appear on TN driving records, ensuring auto insurance rates will be affected.
- New York tickets drivers for using a cell phone and/or texting while driving; a conviction means five points and a fine of up to $150.
Tennessee has some of the least public transportation of any state in the country. As such, most Tennesseans rely on their cars to get everywhere. While New York has tons of efficient public transportation, Tennessee drivers visiting NY would likely enjoy traversing the state’s vast highways by car.
One thing Tennessee drivers would definitely not enjoy is getting a traffic ticket while in New York. Tennesseans’ infamous friendliness would surely be tested when they find out just how devastating and expensive a NY ticket can be. Tennessee’s Department of Safety (DOS) will find out about any convictions for NY traffic violations and drivers will face a number of harsh consequences. This includes points, insurance increases, and possibly even a suspension of driving privileges in one or both states!
New York and Tennessee Share Driving Information
Both New York and Tennessee are both part of the Driver’s License Compact. This is an interstate agreement whereby participating states share information about their drivers and traffic violations committed within their state. States that are part of the Compact will note convictions that take place in other member states on their driving records.
Ignoring a NY Traffic Ticket Has Serious Consequences
Any driver who pays a traffic ticket is in effect pleading guilty and ensuring that the ticket appears on their driving record. But some mistakenly believe that an out-of-state ticket can just be ignored without consequence. Drivers who fail to respond to a New York traffic ticket can be convicted of the infraction by default. In addition, New York State can choose to suspend NY driving privileges of any out-of-state driver who doesn’t respond to or pay a ticket.
TN Drivers Get Double Points for NY Tickets
Tennessee assesses points for most moving violations that take place in the state. If a person accrues 12 points in 12 months, his/her license will be suspended. Unfortunately, the Tennessee DOS will also assess points for traffic convictions that occur out of state as though the infraction had taken place at home.
While New York cannot assess points against a TN license, the NY Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does keep track of the point value of any convictions for out-of-state drivers. Drivers who commit one or more traffic violations with high point values can find themselves facing additional fines or even have their driving privileges in NY suspended.
TN Drivers Should Not Use Their Phones While Driving in NY
Unless one is driving through a school zone or is under 18, it is perfectly legal to make phone calls while driving in Tennessee. Texting while driving in TN can result in a $50 ticket, but it is a no-point violation. In New York, however, Tennesseans must put their phones down or use a hands-free device for calls. A ticket for a cell phone violation or texting while driving in New York costs $150. Moreover, both tickets are considered moving violations worth five points each—that’s almost half-way toward a suspension in NY.
TN Insurance Rates Are Affected by NY Traffic Tickets
Once the Tennessee DOS finds out about an out-of-state traffic violation the driver’s insurance carrier will as well. All auto insurers have access to customer driving records. Insurers periodically request updated driving records, especially around renewal time. Once they do, any out-of-state traffic convictions will show up and one’s premiums can be impacted as though the violation occurred in Tennessee. Even a single speeding ticket can increase Tennessee insurance rates by 13 percent.
Tennessee Drivers Face a Suspension of New York Driving Privileges
If a person is convicted of violations worth 11 points or more in 18 months in New York, their driving privileges will be suspended in NY. Unfortunately, 11 points can be reached with two or even one ticket. For example, one ticket for running a red light (three points) and another speeding 31 mph over the limit (eight points) carry enough points for a suspension. This is in addition to the 10 points (five each) those two violations are worth in Tennessee.
There are even some offenses in NY that an result in a suspension or revocation in New York even if the driver has an otherwise clean record. This includes drunk driving (or any other drug- or alcohol-related traffic offense), participating in a speed contest, and fleeing the scene of an accident. New York can also suspend driving privileges for anyone convicted of speeding three times in 18 months (or twice in a work zone).
New York Fines & Surcharges Are Steep
The state in which a traffic violation occurs sets the fine for that violation. That means Tennessee drivers will pay the New York rate for an offense, which can be significantly higher than what they might be used to.
For example, running a red light in New York can cost up to $450 depending on where the ticket was issued. This is nine times higher than the $50 ticket that would be issued in Tennessee. Likewise, the fine for speeding 31 mph over the limit in NY can cost $600, which nearly quadruple the maximum fine in Tennessee.
Of course, Tennessee drivers know the fine is not the final cost of a traffic ticket. Tennessee charges between $10 and $100 in court costs per ticket for offenses at home. New York does not require drivers to pay court costs, but it does apply a mandatory state surcharge, which typically costs $88 or $93 per violation.
Even worse, if the ticket (or tickets) are worth six points or more, a driver will face what NY calls a Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA). The DRA is separate and in addition the fines and state surcharges. DRAs start at $300. Each point over six adds another $75. Tennessee drivers must pay regardless of whether they or not they ever visit NY again.
That means the two above-mentioned tickets of a red light violation and speeding 31 mph over the limit, which are worth 11 points total, could result in a DRA of $675. When combined with the fines and surcharges, the final cost of the tickets could be $1,911! The driver would also face a likely suspension of driving privileges.
Hiring an Attorney Means TN Drivers Can Stay Home
As much as some Tennesseans like driving, few would want to drive (or fly) all the way back to New York just to fight a traffic ticket. Thankfully, those who choose to hire a qualified NY traffic ticket attorney most likely won’t have to. New York allows licensed attorneys to appear in court on behalf of drivers, both for plea bargains and for trial in most cases.
How Can Tennessee Drivers Beat an NY Traffic Ticket?
New York traffic tickets come with serious penalties. Paying the ticket means admitting guilt and accepting those penalties. Yet ignoring the ticket can cause all those penalties and more. The best way to successfully avoid the negative consequences of an out-of-state traffic ticket is to hire an experienced traffic ticket attorney to fight the underlying charges. An attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to reduce the fines and/or points associated with the ticket. The right attorney can also use his/her knowledge and experience to avoid a possible suspension of driving privileges. As mentioned, an attorney can also appear in lieu of the driver in most cases, ensuring he/she does not have to make a return trip.