Personal Jurisdiction and Speeding Tickets

Before a court can do anything to you, it must first have jurisdiction.

Michael W. Flynn
3-minute read

First, a disclaimer: Although I am an attorney, the legal information in this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for seeking personalized legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Further, I do not intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any listener.

I have received several e-mails and calls from people asking how to challenge a speeding or traffic ticket issued in a foreign state. Listeners have told me how unfair it is to have to return to a court in rural Nebraska to challenge the ticket received while driving across the country, and how they might challenge it from afar.

The short answers are that, the local faraway court has jurisdiction to hale you to it, and it is either not possible or not efficient to challenge from home.

Before a court can do anything to you, it must first have jurisdiction. Jurisdiction generally refers to a court’s power to exercise authority over you. There are two main different kinds of jurisdiction: subject matter jurisdiction, and personal jurisdiction. Today’s episode focuses on personal jurisdiction.

In order for a court to obtain personal jurisdiction, the defendant (in this case the speeder) must have “minimum contacts” with the jurisdiction. Generally, minimum contacts with a jurisdiction exist when the defendant has purposefully availed himself of the protections and laws of that state. The issue gets more complicated for business transactions, and the Supreme Court is still a bit unclear on exactly when and how a business subjects itself to a faraway jurisdiction. But, these more complicated business situations (which law professors love to use in final exams) are not implicated here.