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Do I have to pay an out-of-province traffic ticket?

Sorry speeders, what happens out-of-province doesn’t stay out-of-province. There’s a popular misconception that traffic tickets accumulated in one province are only valid in that province, but that myth could end up costing you a bundle and maybe even your license and vehicle.

Provinces have an agreement called the Canadian Driver Licence Compact, which aims to standardize "one driver licence and one driver record" across provinces. That includes sharing information about traffic offences and finding ways to enforce penalties.

Many provinces also have similar agreements with U.S. states. And it means that if you commit a traffic violation in another province, your home province will hear about it as well. 

Of course, it’s not just speeders. This covers a wide range of traffic offences including criminal offences like impaired driving, but can also apply to running red lights or stop signs, street racing, failing to remain at an accident scene or passing a school bus with its signals flashing.

And if you’re too slow to pay, amass too high a debt or brush off payment all together, the taxman can get involved. The Canada Revenue Agency can intercept income tax refunds and GST payments to delinquent drivers.

Parking tickets are another story. These are more difficult to enforce, since municipalities often don’t have that same record-sharing agreement that provinces do, mostly due to privacy concerns.

Municipalities within the same province can share information with each other to enforce fines, but not across provincial lines.  In Toronto for example, 84 per cent of ticketed out-of-province drivers don’t pay up and the city can’t do much about it. In 2012, the Toronto Star found one Toronto driver with a New York license who had 1,088 tickets and $36,735 in uncollected fines to his name.

However, it doesn’t mean you can ignore those tickets with impunity. If you rack up too many tickets or fines in one town, your car could be towed if you return there and are nabbed again.