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Statute of limitations on tickets is 20 years

Could you please settle a disagreement I have with a friend? Is there a statute of limitations on someone who has lost their driver's license for not paying a traffic ticket? My friend says there is, and that after a certain amount of time, the ticket has to be written off and then the person can get their license back. I disagreed and said there is no limitation, and the person cannot get his or her license back until the tickets are paid. Who is correct?

— Kathy M., Medford

Nice question, Kathy. My initial impression was what you were thinking, "No pay, no license."

But, I try to research my answers rather than guess, which saves me from a bunch of chiding emails and having to make corrections in the next column.

So, here's the scoop: There is a statute of limitations, if you want to call it that, on traffic tickets.

According to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles, tickets can be submitted by the court for collection for up to 20 years — a long time to do without a license, in my opinion.

If, for example, you received a speeding ticket and didn't pay, then after 20 years you can ask DMV for reinstatement of your license and it would not be able to hold that old speeding ticket against you.

They did point out that you would have to pay a reinstatement fee, but the old ticket and any resultant license suspension would be gone. So it looks like your friend puts this one in the win column.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.