Georgia Eliminates International Driving Permit

Beginning on January 1, 2017, the International Driving Permit (IDP), will no longer be required for drivers visiting from other countries. This is an important change in the law which affects our clients, many of whom have relatives visiting from the Republic of Korea.

The previous version of the relevant statute, which is O.C.G.A. 40-5-21, required an International Driving Permit for holders of licenses from foreign countries if the native license was not in English. The 2015 version of O.C.G.A. 40-5-21 read in relevant part:

“(2) A nonresident who has in his or her immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her home state or country; provided, however, that such person would otherwise satisfy all requirements to receive a Georgia driver’s license and, if such nonresident driver’s license is in a language other than English, the nonresident also has in his or her immediate possession a valid international driving permit which conforms to and has been issued in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on Road Traffic, 3 U.S.T. 3008, TIAS 2487, or any similar such treaty, international agreement, or reciprocal agreement between the United States and a foreign nation concerning driving privileges of nonresidents;”

The new version of O.C.G.A. 40-5-21, as amended by Georgia SB 320, eliminates the need for an International Driving Permit entirely and reads:

(2) A nonresident who has in his or her immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her home state or country; provided, however, that such person would otherwise satisfy all requirements to receive a Georgia driver’s license; and provided, further, that in the case of a driver’s license issued by the driver’s licensing authority of a foreign country, a law enforcement officer may consult such person’s passport or visa to verify the validity of such license, if available.

Notice that nowhere in the statute is an International Driving Permit even mentioned. It’s clear that the legislature sought to eliminate the International Driving Permit entirely.

Bear in mind that the driver must be eligible to receive a Georgia license under Georgia law. While this element of the statute does apply to minimum age and physical requirements, it is mainly worried about immigration status. Since a person without immigration status is unable to obtain a Georgia license, this element forestalls undocumented people from using their license from their native country to drive.

It is our advice to our clients and their families that while driving in Georgia under this new law, that you should have your native drivers license and your passport with you at all times.

Should You Plead Nolo Contendere To Your Speeding Ticket?

Pleading Nolo Contendere to a Speeding Ticket

Should you plead nolo contendere to your speeding ticket?  This is a question that I am asked endlessly by my traffic ticket clients.  They call and ask, “Why don’t I just plead nolo to my speeding ticket?”

People think pleading nolo contendere to a speeding ticket is like shooting a werewolf with a silver bullet or stabbing a vampire through the heart with a stake.  Unfortunately, pleading nolo contendere to a speeding ticket is no magic solution.

By the way, pleading nolo contendere and no contest are the same thing.  Nolo contendere is latin, and the English translation is no contest.  They are exactly the same thing.

The answer to this question is a big, resounding, NO.  As a traffic ticket lawyer, I think there are very few cases where you should plead nolo contendere to a speeding ticket.  Here’s why.

A Nolo Contendere Plea to a Speeding Ticket is Still Reported to Your Driving Record

Contrary to popular belief, a nolo contendere plea will NOT keep the speeding ticket from being reported to your driving record.  If you plead nolo contendere to your speeding ticket, the speeding ticket will still be reported to your driving record.

Your car insurance company will still be able to see the speeding ticket.  When they run your driving record before deciding whether to raise your car insurance rates, they will be able to see that you pled nolo contendere to a speeding ticket AND the speed you were traveling!

Many people seem to think that pleading nolo contendere to your speeding ticket will stop your car insurance company from finding out about the speeding ticket.  The sad truth is that a nolo plea doesn’t prevent your car insurance company from discovering the speeding ticket.

Car Insurance Companies Do Not Care If You Plead Nolo To A Speeding Ticket Or Guilty To A Speeding Ticket

Once I give a potential client this information, the next question is inevitably “Well, the car insurance company can’t raise my rates since I pled nolo, right?”  Wrong.  Your car insurance company DOES NOT CARE that you pled nolo contendere to your speeding ticket. 

To a car insurance company, a nolo contendere plea to a speeding ticket is the same as a guilty plea.  Your car insurance company will simply look at the speeding ticket, note the speed, and correspondingly raise your car insurance rates for anywhere from three to seven years.  Pleading nolo contendere to a speeding ticket can end up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your car insurance rates.

I know, dear reader, that you are thinking, “But I’m not pleading guilty!  I’m pleading no contest!  I’m not admitting guilt!”  Sorry, but your car insurance company does not care.  There is no law that says that car insurance companies cannot raise your car insurance rates if you plead nolo contendere to a speeding ticket.

Benefits of Pleading No Contest to a Speeding Ticket

There’s got to be some benefit to pleading nolo contendere to speeding ticket, right?  You are correct, there is some benefit to pleading no contest to your speeding ticket.

Quite simply, a nolo contendere plea to a speeding ticket keeps the points off of your record.  Points are used by the Department of Driver Services to determine if your license should be suspended.  That’s it.  Points do not determine whether your car insurance company raises your car insurance rates if your get a citation for speeding.  Most of the time, your speeding ticket is not going to result in enough points that it will suspend your license unless you have a a pretty bad driving record.

In the opinion of this traffic ticket lawyer, the benefit to pleading no contest to a speeding citation is very limited and you are usually better off keeping that no contest plea in your back pocket rather than burning it on a speeding ticket.  Remember, you only get to plead nolo contendere once every five years in Georgia.

When is it a good time to use that nolo contendere plea?  Well, that’s another post for another day…