Out-of-State Drivers and California DUI Laws

California DUIs run on a two track process.

This is the California DMV Track, and the California Courts Track. This two track system applies whether the alleged DUI offender is a California or out of state licensed driver


The California DMV Track and Out-of-State Licensed Drivers

If you are an out-of state driver and are arrested for a DUI in California, you may participate in the hearing process by requesting a due process hearing within the first ten days following your DUI arrest.

Once a hearing is requested, the license (or driving privilege) suspension gets postponed pending the outcome of the hearing--which may not occur until months later. Contact the Lee Law Group so we may schedule a hearing for you and represent you at that hearing. This hearing, which can be telephonic, is to determine if you were really under the influence and if the police officer had a legal right to stop and arrest you for DUI. At the hearing, the office must prove that (1) He/she reasonably believed that you were DUI, (2) You were lawfully arrested, and (3) That your BAC was at or above 0.08% at the time of driving.

- If you prevail at the hearing, no further California DMV action is taken, and no action will be taken in your home state.

- If you lose at the hearing, any California driving privileges are suspended based on California law, depending on your prior record. If you do not request a California DMV hearing within the first ten days following your DUI arrest, you forfeit the right to do so. In that event, the California law suspension goes into effect 30 days after your arrest,

Whether or not your out-of- state driving privileges are affected, and how, depends on the state in which you are licensed to drive. This depends on your state law and your state's relation to the federal law known as the "The Interstate Drivers License Compact (DLC)".

The Interstate Drivers License Compact (DLC) provides that that if your driving privilege in California has been suspended, most likely this suspension will affect your driving privileges in your home state. This is because all but five states (Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) belong to the Interstate Drivers License Compact (DLC).

The DLC revolves around the concept that every driver in the country has a single drivers license and a single driving record. States belonging to the Interstate Drivers License Compact report driving arrests (including DUIs) to each other. As a result, your home state will likely take its own action against your driver's license if you suffer a California DUI arrest.

The type and severity of the action will depend on the state in which you live. Some states will take action if the California DMV suspends your license. Other states will only take action if you suffer a criminal conviction in another state. In some states, you will face DMV penalties at home as if you had been convicted of DUI there. In others, you may only be penalized if your home state has the same or similar DUI statutes as California.


California Courts’ “Track” and the Out-of-State DUI Driver

Regardless of whether you win or lose your California DMV hearing…or even if you do not request a hearing…you will still be involved in a DUI criminal court proceeding. The California Superior Court takes action that is separate and apart from the DMV.

Contact the Lee Law Group so we may defend you in the California courts. Often times we may be able to appear on your behalf, making all your appearances for you even if you decide to take your case to trial, but as a matter of strategy, it is recommended that you appear for your trial. A jury is much more likely to convict you if they haven't met, seen, or made eye-contact with you.

If you are successful in having your charges reduced or dismissed, your home state might not take any action. But if you are convicted of a California DUI, you will be sentenced here. Your privilege to drive in California will be suspended. And your home state will likely impose the same restrictions on your driver's license once you return home.

If your home state takes action against your driver's license, that action can't be remedied until you fulfill your California DUI obligations. This means that you must complete all of your probation requirements that were imposed by the court (such as paying fines and completing California DUI School).

Once those duties have been carried out and the period of your suspension has lapsed, you (or your California DUI lawyer) must contact the court and DMV to reinstate your California driving privilege. At that point, your home state would also likely lift any restrictions on your driver's license.

It should be noted that if you choose to drive in California while your privilege is suspended, you will face additional criminal charges for “driving on a suspended license” under Vehicle Code 14601. In California, these violations are priorable, which means that your fines and jail time will automatically increase with each conviction. These convictions will also be reported to your home state under the DLC.


The New Driver License Agreement (DLA)

The DLC is being replaced by the 'Drivers License Agreement' (DLA). Once in effect, the DLA will impose even tougher regulations on its member-states…which, in turn means even tougher regulations for you as an out-of-state offender.

The biggest difference is that the Drivers License Agreement will eliminate interstate wide differences between offenses. For example, under the current law, DLC, a state doesn't have to enforce an out-of-state license suspension/conviction if that state doesn't have a similar statute. However, under the DLA, it would.

The bottom line is this, -- being arrested for DUI in any state can have a significant impact on your driver's license in your home state.

Because of the Interstate Driver's License Compact (and its future successor, the Driver License Agreement), proactively fighting a California DUI is just as important for an out-of-state resident as it is for a Californian.


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