Many jurisdictions around the world have a points based system for measuring driving offences. In some places, like Italy, a new license holder starts off with a fixed number of points which are then deducted based on the severity of the offence committed. When a certain threshold is reached, the licence is then revoked or suspended for a fixed period of time. In other cases, like New York State, a new license holder starts with no points, and points are added after an offence based on its severity. Just like above, after a certain threshold of points is reached, the license is revoked or suspended. In each case, a driver's data is added to a system where it can be accessed by any law enforcement officer.

For example, if I'm caught for speeding today in New York City and receive 3 points on my license, a police officer will add that information to a central database. If, tomorrow, I'm caught for speeding again, a totally different officer will be able to access information about my license and determine that I'm a repeat offender.

In most of these places, you are also legally allowed to drive with a foreign driver's license, with or without an international driving permit. These foreign licenses may not confirm to the same format as the locally issued licenses for that jurisdiction. For instance, some Indian states still issue paper licenses without any digital chip or machine readable data. This license will not be readable by a points system for New York State. How do such jurisdictions keep a track of driving offences for visitors or tourists who do not have a local license?

  • Maybe your last line should have an addition of 'Or don't they?'
    – Willeke
    Feb 24, 2018 at 13:09
  • It sounds like as long as you speed in New York the same amount that you speed in Italy, you should be fine.
    – ajd
    Feb 24, 2018 at 13:48
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    Anecdotal and not really answer worth but a couple of times in the US I have been pulled over speeding and nicely waved my Australian license and rental car agreement at the officer and been let off with a verbal warning. Another time I was given a ticket and had to see a judge who was a dead ringer for Boss Hog from the Dukes of Hazard. I went in thinking I could talk my way out of it but when I saw him I was like "yes sir, no sir, here's my money sir"
    – Peter M
    Feb 24, 2018 at 16:00
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    @crayarikar In Australia you get a fine for the speeding and you pay it (assuming that you did not just lose your license for your indiscretion). In the US the speeding fine is just one component of the bottom line that you end up paying. They tack on all sorts of "fees" and "taxes" that increase the total by a significant amount.
    – Peter M
    Feb 24, 2018 at 16:27
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    @crayarikar And then there is the "$ per mph over the limit" they charge which is based on the posted limit and not the enforced limit - EG I can do 10 mph over on the interstates in the US and the cops won't even get out of bed to pull me over. But at 10+ mph over the limit and not only do they pull you over but your fine is assessed as 10+ mph over the limit and not difference between what they enforce and what speed you are doing.
    – Peter M
    Feb 24, 2018 at 16:29

1 Answer 1


Border states such as New York have reciprocity data sharing agreements with neighboring provinces (Ontario and Quebec in the case of NY State).

A Canadian, say with an Ontario licence caught speeding in NY can have Ontario demerit points assessed against their Ontario licence. If they have too many points (including whatever points they may have earned at home) (oversimplifying a bit) their Ontario licence will no longer be valid, which means it's not legal for them to drive in Ontario or in NY State. Their insurance will probably increase in cost before that. Presumably the same is true in reverse of the NY State driver in Ontario or Quebec who misinterprets the 100km/h limit as 100mph and gets herself stopped.

This would indicate to me that they don't keep track themselves of points on foreign licenses.

Of course that's only NY State. Each state (and DC, I assume) can do things their own way. I try to avoid such interactions with the local authorities, even in places like the US where most of the police are honest.

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