The Driver's License Compact (DLC) is an interstate agreement used by states to exchange information regarding traffic violations and license suspensions. Each member state will report the offense to the driver's home state. The penalties for the offense may vary, and only be punished if the home state recognizes the equivalent law. If a non-resident commits a traffic offense, such as driving under the influence, this will be reported to the state where they currently hold a valid driver's license. The state where they reside will punish the offense as if it happened in the home state of the driver.
When an individual is convicted of driving on a suspended license, they could simply move to another state and apply for a license there without facing the penalties for the offense. The primary purpose of the DLC is to have one driver with one license and only one record. A person who is charged with a driving offense in a state where they do not reside cannot be held accountable if their home state does not have the same law. For example, some states have made it illegal for motorists to use a hand-held cell phone while operating their vehicle. Other states have not adopted this ban. Let's say that you are visiting in Washington State where it is illegal for any driver to use a cell phone unless it is a hands-free device. You are cited for using a hand-held cell phone. Washington reports the offense to your home state of New Mexico that has no such ban. That means that you will not be held liable for the offense because your home state does not recognize this law.
There are currently a total of 45 states and the District of Columbia that are members of the Interstate Driver's License Compact. The five states that do not share driving records include:
Although these states are not members of the DLC, they may be share information with other states through a different type of agreement. The State of Massachusetts chooses to share information through the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), rather than through the DLC. They are also a member of the Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC), which requires member states to suspend the driver's license of individuals who are cited with a moving violation in another state. It's possible in the near future that the DLC will be replaced with the Driver's License Agreement (DLA), which currently has only three member states (Arkansas, Connecticut and Massachusetts).
If you were visiting outside your home state and received a citation for a traffic offense, you may be facing the same penalties as if the violation occurred in the state where you reside. How information is shared between the states is still being formulated and the laws can change. Therefore, it is important to hire a lawyer who specializes in this area of law to fight the ticket and make sure that you aren't unjustly penalized for an offense.