Drivers who get tickets while on vacation or driving in states other than their home state are often surprised to find that those infractions can affect their ability to drive at home. This can be linked directly to three national driving databases, the National Driver Register (NDR), the Driver License Compact (DLC) and the Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC).
National Driving Databases
The NDR is the most serious of the three databases, in that it contains a listing of the 'worst drivers.' It is used by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, which check the list before granting any license. So, while being on the NDR does not stop you from driving currently in your home state, you may find it difficult to renew your license when your old one expires.
What gets you on the NDR? Having your license suspended or revoked, for starters, as well as the more serious driving violations, such as driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Your current license will be valid in your home state, but know that if any out-of-state driving issues are not taken care of in time, getting your current license renewed might be a difficult matter, if not impossible.
Alternatively, the DLC has more of a "pay now" aspect to it. It effectively makes you take responsibility for your bad driving in other states immediately in your home state. If you are given a ticket while on vacation, the points are assessed in your home state, as if the ticket had happened at home. If your driving privileges are suspended in another state, they are suspended at home as well.
The NRVC holds the middle ground between the NDR and the DLC. If you get ticketed while on vacation, your home state will suspend your license until the ticket is dealt with, but your home state will not issue other penalties (such as points or fines).
States Use of National Driving Databases
Both the DLC and NRVC are completely voluntary for states, which can cause confusion. Georgia, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Massachusetts aren't members of the DLC, while Wisconsin, California, Montana, Oregon and Alaska have yet to join the NRVC. Also, not all states treat every infraction equally. Kansas, Wyoming, Minnesota, Arizona, Iowa and South Dakota, for instance, do not record speeding tickets from other states unless the speeding infraction was in excess of 10 miles above the speed limit. Likewise, if a certain violation is only an infraction in one state, and not in the home state, the home state will take no further action.
While the best course of action, no matter what state you're driving in, is to follow the laws and avoid being ticketed in the first place. If you do receive a traffic infraction, the DLC and NRVC databases may make it more difficult to drive in the future. To learn more about the national driving databases and how they may affect you or your ability to renew you license, speak to a criminal law attorney in your area.