Can DMV suspend/revoke license for J Walking in another state?
February 20, 2012 6:26 PM   Subscribe

My friend has a drivers license from the state of Pennsylvania and is currently living in Los Angeles California. They got a ticket for J Walking and the officer took down their name, License # and home address in Los Angeles. Then my friend recently receive a letter from the CA DMV saying that if they don't pay the fine then they will suspend/revoke the license. Can CA suspend/revoke their Pennsylvania license for J Walking in Los Angeles, CA? Yes/No and how did you resolve it or get out of it? Thanks!
posted by HBomb to Law & Government (18 answers total)
They may not be able to suspend the PA license, but when they try, and then realize your friend may legally be a CA resident without a CA license, the penalties could be much more severe.
posted by hwyengr at 6:31 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

He gets out of it by paying the fine. If he doesn't pay the fine, they will add a lot in late fees, it will go to collections, he'll get a big ding on his credit report, and he'll get hounded by collectors.
posted by violetk at 6:38 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here is the info on how quickly the state expects your friend to get a CA license. The DMV might be trying to force the issue.

"If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid."

"If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents."
posted by calgirl at 6:55 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

You'll have better luck Googling "jaywalking", the more common spelling of the word.

Seconding the "they'll get your friend either way; if they don't have any luck with Pennsylvania, they'll get him for not having gotten a California license within two weeks of moving to California" so your friend is better off just paying the fine for jaywalking. Google tells me it's $191, which is certainly high, but the time and money of getting a new license is likely to be more than that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:16 PM on February 20, 2012

The place where you get mail is supposed to be the place listed on your driver license. So. If the PA address forwards (or used to forward) to the new CA address? Your friend is potentially kind of screwed for not yet having a CA license.

Tell your friend to pay the fine, consider that it contributes to things related to, uh, nearly non-existent pedestrian safety, and chalk it up as a life lesson.
posted by bilabial at 7:27 PM on February 20, 2012

i lived in cali for about 3 years driving around with a beat up old, expired north carolina license. i got a couple of speeding tickets, and didn't pay them off cause they didn't know where i lived, so couldn't send me the bill. nothing seemed to happen on the north carolina end either. by the time i finally got around to getting my california license, i was making good money and brought along my checkbook to pay off all the fines i assumed they'd present me when i gave their computer system my name, but they didn't even mention the stupid tickets - i just plopped down my 25 bucks or whatever and walked out with a shiny new license. boy did i feel clever!

i didn't feel so clever when they finally tracked down my aging parents back in nc 5 years later and started hounding them to death for $3000 worth of fines and late fees, and i wasn't making such good money any more.

just pay the damn ticket.
posted by messiahwannabe at 7:33 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not California, but: A friend of mine got a speeding ticket in Nevada while driving cross country. Fast forward a couple of months and Minnesota tries to suspend his license because they somehow got told he was driving 100mph faster than he was (the ticket was in a 25 zone). Cue small bureaucratic farce involving some rural Nevada county with no fax machine or something, but it got sorted out.

Like everyone else has said, your friend has managed to end up in one of few situations where a state will notice you didn't get a new license when you moved. (If your friend is a student and, say, still votes in Pennsylvania, they might have a leg to stand on, I suppose.)
posted by hoyland at 7:36 PM on February 20, 2012

Related are the Driver License Compact and National Driver Register.
posted by flug at 8:25 PM on February 20, 2012

For future reference, if your friend was *walking*, s/he didn't have any legal obligation to present the police with a *driver's* license. All that is required is to identify yourself by name. We are not required to carry ID in this country just in order to be a pedestrian!

I'd like to add my own story to counter the horror stories above: YMMV, but I got a parking ticket when I first moved to Seattle and still had Maryland license plates. I didn't pay it because I really didn't think it was fair (the parking space was supposedly back-in-only but the signage was on the wall of a building and VERY hard to see, plus both cars on either side of me had parked front-in, AND I had never heard of such a parking law even existing). The last thing I wanted to do was try to argue the ticket in court, especially after reading online about how money-hungry Seattle is and how they just love to get revenue by issuing as many parking tickets as possible. I was warned by people that I should pay it, or else the DMV's computer systems would surely link me with the ticket and send me a bill to me Seattle address (with hefty fines added), but from researching online it didn't look like there was any way for WA state to tap into MD state's license plate records.

When I went to the DMV, I had absolutely no problem whatsoever getting my new WA state plates. No bill or notice ever showed up at my Seattle address, and I haven't heard anything else about it since.
posted by parrot_person at 8:31 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's weird to me that they can threaten your friend with suspension of his driver's license simply because he was carrying it while committing a non-driving offense. I mean, what if he had just been out for a walk and didn't have his license with him? But I don't know how they do things in California. Perhaps the threat of revocation has more to do with failure to pay the fine than the original infraction.

But it seems to me that the easiest way to resolve this problem is to pay the fine, and try not to jaywalk in the future.
posted by Nothlit at 8:38 PM on February 20, 2012

I don't think the Driver's License Compact and National Driver Register links are relevant to this situation. Is jaywalking even a traffic violation?? Even if it is, I found this: linked from the Driver License Compact page. It tells you under what circumstances PA will revoke a license based on actions in another state. Jaywalking clearly doesn't fit the bill.

Also, different states have different definitions of what it means to have residence in their state. If your friend has a short-term lease, and/or still gets mail sent elsewhere, s/he may not technically "live in" CA. They'd need to prove that s/he does in order to ding him/her for not getting a CA license fast enough after moving there.
posted by parrot_person at 8:54 PM on February 20, 2012

From the linked PDF: "Although reported to PennDOT, minor traffic offenses such as speeding, red light, stop sign, etc., will (NOT) appear on your driving record, unless you are a CDL holder. Points will not be assessed to your PA driving record when convicted of a point related offense in a DLC member state."
posted by parrot_person at 8:55 PM on February 20, 2012

I used my South Carolina drivers license to get a California ID card using a California lease signed 5 months prior as proof of residency. The clerk returned my SC license with no further mention of the topic.
posted by Ardiril at 10:02 PM on February 20, 2012

Ask your friend to take another look at the ticket. My guess is that it's boilerplate that threatens to revoke/suspend a CA license, not an out-of-state one. In any event, the CA DMV will track you down to make you pay the fine, plus penalties, no matter where you live. (Collection agencies know no bounds.) So yeah, just pay it.

As an aside, it's always been my understanding that you can have an out-of-state driver's license in CA, but you are required to register your car within 2 weeks, no matter where your license is from.
posted by turducken at 10:10 PM on February 20, 2012

how can they suspend a drivers license for something that did not involve a car?
posted by majortom1981 at 5:52 AM on February 21, 2012

Jaywalking is considered a traffic offense in California, majortom1981. The fines are higher than many automotive moving violation fines.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:11 PM on February 21, 2012

CA will ask PA to suspend the license, however, they can not suspend/revoke a license they did not issue. it depends on whether those two states talk/report (see driver license compact above) as to if they will. it could go for years unnoticed by PA, or they could suspend it next week. also, if your friend "moves" to CA (or any other state) in the interim and gets a license, PA can retroactively ask that state to suspend the current license for a suspension committed while a resident of PA. i have seen this happen, albeit not for jaywalking.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 5:07 PM on February 21, 2012

how can they suspend a drivers license for something that did not involve a car?
posted by majortom1981 at 8:52 AM on February 21 [+] [!]

Jaywalking is considered a traffic offense in California, majortom1981. The fines are higher than many automotive moving violation fines.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:11 PM on February 21 [+] [!]

Right, but what would be the penalty for someone who doesn't have a driver's license, I think that was the gist of the question, right?
posted by Pax at 6:26 AM on February 22, 2012

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