If you have been arrested in California on charges of DUI but are not a California resident, you may well be confused and concerned as to how to deal with an out of state DUI. Dealing with a DUI charge in your home state is bad enough, but out of state DUIs are even more complex and distressing.
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we understand the situation you are in and stand ready to come to your aid with the highest caliber of legal expertise. We have long experience in handling all manner of California DUI cases, including out of state DUIs, and we can put that knowledge to work for you.
Below, we introduce you to some of the basics of an out of state California DUI to help you know what to expect next in the process:
The California DUI Process
In California, the same rules apply to your DUI arrest regardless of which state you reside in and regardless of which state issued your driver's license. The difference is that, when a California resident gets a DUI, the arresting officer will confiscate his/her driver's license and give out a "pink temporary license" that will expire in 30 days. But, if you live out of state, the officer cannot legally take or suspend your license. Instead, it is only your legal right to drive in the state of California that will be threatened.
Anyone, in California, driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, .04% for drivers of commercial vehicles, .01% for those under 21, or while their driving is impaired by alcohol/drugs (regardless of BAC) has committed a DUI no matter which state they reside in. Both in and out of state DUI recipients have 10 days to petition the California DMV for a hearing to see if they can get their license reinstated or their California driving privileges restored. If you fail to request a hearing within the 10-day time limit, you lose that right forever.
In most cases, a DUI lawyer can appear in your behalf at the DMV hearing if you can't be there — as is often the case with out of state DUIs. In some cases, you may even be able to participate in the hearing via telephone.
A good DUI lawyer can maximize your chances of winning your hearing by challenging the BAC test results, the legality of the traffic stop or arrest, and the other evidences brought against you. A victory will get you California driving privileges reinstated, but you could still face a court challenge later on.
Losing your DMV hearing, for a first-time offender, could bring a loss of driving privileges in California for 4 months, though this can often be switched to a restricted license after the first 30 days. A restricted license allows you to drive to work and DUI classes.
A loss in court later on would have even more severe consequences, while a victory in court would permanently restore your lost driving privileges.
Interstate DUI Agreements
Currently, all but five states (Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Georgia being the exceptions) have signed onto the Interstate Driver's License Compact. The IDLC allows for out of state DUIs to impact your driving privileges and driver's license in your home state. While each participating state will act differently, all of them will take some form of action against you if you are issued a DUI while driving in California.
In certain states, no action will be taken against you unless you actually lose in court, while in other states, the California DMV suspending your license is enough to trigger consequences. In many cases, your home state will treat you as if you had gotten the DUI there, but if your home state has no similar DUI statute, some states will take no action at all.
However, a new interstate DUI agreement, called simply the Driver License Agreement, is in process of being implemented. The DLA will mean stricter dealings with out of state DUI violations. Specifically, it will eliminate the exception where a state lacks an equivalent or very similar statute. The DLA will lead to enforcement against DUI offenders in their home states based, essentially, on the laws of the state in which the offense took place.
Common Questions About Out of State DUIs
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we understand that those facing out of state DUIs may have many questions about how their out of state status will affect the process. We can answer all of your questions on California DUIs, but here are some answers to some of the most common questions we hear:
- If you reside in the state of California but your license is issued from another state, will your DUI be considered "out of state?" The answer is "yes," because the law looks at where your license comes from and not at where you live and drive.
- Do I have to attend the DMV hearing and the trial in person? In most cases, we can appear in your behalf at the DMV hearing. In most "ordinary" misdemeanor level DUIs, we can also appear in your stead at the trial, if there is one. However, you stand a better chance in court if you make a personal appearance and the jury can see and hear from you. And if it is a felony level DUI charge, you will often be required to attend, though it is still possible to negotiate on this point with the court.
- When will my home state take action based on my California DUI arrest? The answer to this question depends on the policy of each state, but many will wait for the DMV hearing but not for the trial results, in deciding on whether or not to suspend your driver's license. At that point, it will be the same as if you got your DUI in your home state in that your license will be suspended.
- Do I need one lawyer for proceedings in California and another one to fight the DUI in my home state? It will not be necessary, typically, to hire two lawyers, one for each state, especially since the results in your home state are so closely tied to the results of your hearing/trial in California. Hiring a California based DUI lawyer or at least someone very familiar with California DUI law will be best since it is the California statutes that ultimately underlie and determine the whole process you will be going through.
- What punishment will I receive in my home state if convicted of a California DUI? Typically, your home state will restrict your driving privileges in the same way that California restricts them, only your home state's action will affect you everywhere instead of just in California.
- When can my license be restored if it is suspended based on a out of state California DUI? Only after you fulfill all sentencing elements imposed by the California court, such as attending DUI classes and paying applicable fines, will your home state likely reinstate your license. However, you must first contact the California DMV/court to get this done or have your DUI lawyer take care of it for you. Your driving privileges will not be automatically in force again once the official suspension period expires. You must go through the process of reinstatement, which may take weeks.
- What if you are caught driving in California after that privilege has been suspended? This would trigger additional penalties under California Vehicle Code Section 14601. You would likely be facing time in county jail and heavy fines, and such a violation would also be reported to your home state. Remember that driving on a suspended license, especially one suspended for a DUI, is taken much more seriously than just driving without holding a valid license or without your license present on your person at the time.
How Your California DUI Lawyer Can Help You Win Your Out of State DUI Case
Although we have touched upon this already, it is best to drive it home with some additional information: it is in your best interests to avail yourself of a local, California DUI attorney.
First of all, while you may already be familiar with your own state’s DUI process, every state is somewhat different on these matters. You can’t afford to suffer from a “learning curve” because you can’t undo a conviction and try again based on your previous lack of knowledge. Your California DUI lawyer will know how to walk you through every step of the process from start to finish and will alert you of what specific actions you need to take to avoid negative consequences.
Secondly, there are many things you would have to travel to California to take care of but that your lawyer who is already in state can take care of for you instead. This can begin with calling the DMV within 10 days of your arrest to ensure you get a DMV hearing before your right to one expires. And your lawyer can ensure you can still drive (even in California) beyond the 30-day limit if your hearing is scheduled more than 30 days ahead, which often happens. Then, he or she can attend the DMV hearing in your place to save you the travel expense, possibly with you also participating via phone.
Your California DUI lawyer will also be able to collect important evidence in your favor, possibly find witnesses whose testimony will help your case, and bring forward mitigating factors to the DMV hearing judge. If your case, goes to trial, it is best if you appear personally, as juries tend to look more favorably on those who do. But it is not required if your lawyer can appear in your behalf. And he can appear for you at the pre-trial hearings too, possibly getting the charge dismissed by motioning for evidence to be suppressed based on police violations of your rights.
From beginning to end, you stand a much better chance of winning your case when you rely on a local, in-state DUI lawyer than when you use an out of state attorney or no attorney at all. However, also note that lawyers in your home state will often be able to recommend to you a good California DUI lawyer since the legal community is often rather “tight knit.”
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we have a reputation for excellence in DUI defense that extends throughout California and beyond. We understand how difficult it is to deal with a DUI “long distance,” and we have the experience in dealing with out of state DUI cases it takes to both win your case and make the process as convenient for you as possible.
Contact Us Today
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we can assist you in preparing for your DUI hearing or court case, and in most circumstances, we can appear in your behalf if you can't be there because you live out of state.
We will form the best possible legal defense strategy for your case and work tirelessly to win a dismissal or acquittal. Or, if that is not possible, we will apply our seasoned negotiation skills to win you a favorable plea with a reduced charge/sentence.
It is easy to delay and almost forget about your DUI arrest once back in your home state, but the reality is it will not simply go away by ignoring it. The sooner you take action to prepare yourself for your hearing and/or trial, the better. At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we have won many cases for out of staters arrested for DUI while driving in California, and we look forward to helping you win your case as well.
To learn more or to avail yourself of a free DUI consultation, call us 24/7/365 at 424-281-3020.