By Jordan W. Charness
Reciprocal Agreement Definition – Legal Obligations assumed and imposed by two parties as mutual and conditional upon the other party assuming same obligations. (Webster’s New World Law Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)
Peter had just completed quite the driving spree: his business trip had taken him to three provinces and two states. He logged over 2,500 kilometres and was proud to say that he didn’t get a single ticket…at least not in his home province. Unfortunately, his driving during the rest of the trip had been somewhat less than stellar.
According to him, he was only speeding a little bit in Ontario when the Ontario provincial police pulled him over. The New York State trooper who caught him speeding on the New York State Thruway obviously did not know the difference between miles per hour and kilometres per hour. And last, but not least, didn’t they know the difference between a red light and a yellow light in New Brunswick???
You guessed it: Peter had received tickets in all of those places but was very proud not to have received one at home in Québec. He was certain that even if he paid the tickets his driving record at home would remain free and clear from all demerit points. He could not have been farther from the truth.
Most provinces have reciprocal agreements with neighbouring provinces, and even neighbouring states, whereby each one will notify the driver’s home province when a driver gets a ticket or commits a traffic offence in a reciprocating jurisdiction.
Once you pay your ticket in the jurisdiction where you committed the offence, your troubles will only just be beginning. Although you’ll not earn any demerit points in the foreign jurisdiction, you might earn demerit points on your driver’s licence at home based on your traffic offence abroad. The actual number of points you may receive may not be identical to what it would be at home because each province has negotiated a different agreement with each reciprocating province or state.
For instance, what might be a three-point offence abroad may only be two points at home and you may get either two points or three points depending on the agreement that your home province and the other province or state have made.
Sometimes the reciprocal agreements deal only with drinking and driving or criminal code offences, or with drivers who have caused accidents but do not share a demerit points system, so some tickets may share points with your home province while others may not.
To make things more complicated, each province sets up its own reciprocity agreements with the provinces and states that it wants to share agreement with.
For example, the province of Québec has reciprocating agreements with the states of New York and Maine, as well as the provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick. It used to have a reciprocal agreement with the state of Florida but that one expired in May of 2009 and does not seem to have been renewed. Ontario has reciprocal agreements with the province of Québec and the states of New York and Michigan. Other provinces have different agreements.
Peter had what he thought was a brilliant solution when I gave him this horrible bit of news. He thought that the best thing to do would be to ignore the foreign tickets and simply refuse to pay them.
This idea is probably the worst of the bunch. In most jurisdictions if you have outstanding traffic tickets and are ever pulled over by a local police officer you will be instantly jailed or forced to pay a huge fine, or, if you’re lucky, just have your car temporarily impounded.