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The only ticket you should be bringing back from a trip to the United States or Mexico should either be a plane ticket or a souvenir ticket from a landmark.

But sometimes, whether you’re driving a rental car or your own through the U.S. or Mexico, you can get pulled over by local authorities.

Just remember to always keep your cool and provide the police with the required details: licence and registration (or rental papers).

Can you get demerit points abroad?

There are only two states where you will get demerit points if caught disobeying the rules of the road: Michigan and New York.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, points will be added to your driving record if you are caught:

  • Speeding.
  • Failing to obey a stop sign.
  • Failing to obey a signal light.
  • Failing to stop for a school bus.
  • Racing.
  • Failing to remain at or return to the scene of a collision.
  • Careless driving.

Your licence will be suspended in Ontario if you are found guilty of:

  • Vehicular manslaughter.
  • Criminal negligence.
  • Dangerous driving.
  • Failure to remain at the scene of a collision.
  • Impaired driving.
  • Driving while disqualified or prohibited.

Though demerit points do not directly impact your insurance costs, multiple violations, or a major conviction, will increase your costs.

Outside of Michigan and New York, you will have to pay a fine at the local police station, or a notice will be waiting in your mailbox when you return home.

Can you fight an out-of-country ticket?

Odds are you’ll have to pay the fine when you’re abroad.

In Mexico, the officer will often escort you to the local station to pay the fine.

Never pay the officer on the side of the road as it could be seen as either a bribe or abetting corruption.

In the U.S., sometimes the ticket will be mailed to you, and you will be expected to pay the fine, especially in the case of photo radar. You can hire a lawyer to represent you in court, but that might not be something you want to entertain.

Paying the ticket is the most straightforward course of action.

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What happens if you don’t pay a ticket?

Licence and registration are often the first things officers ask for in the U.S. and Mexico (and it’s the same here in Canada, too). So, you’re driving infraction is on record.

If you avoid paying your ticket, that outstanding fine will follow you across state lines making your next stop for speeding even worse than the one before. You may even be denied entry into the United States if you have outstanding fines — even parking tickets.

Further to that, unpaid tickets could also impact your credit rating, depending on how high the fine is.

How to avoid getting a ticket

Be sure to acquaint yourself with the rules of the road. If there are any unique laws, like an illegal right turn on a red light, as seen in Quebec, know them.

Be sure to brush up on your Spanish so you aren’t misreading signs in Mexico as well.

Above all else, drive safely, abide by the rules of the road, and don’t do anything to catch anyone’s attention.

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