Drivers in any state face a BAC threshold of .08% for DUIs. This means no matter what state you are driving in, you can get a DUI if your BAC is .08% or above. Each state, however, punishes DUI offenders according to its own laws. California has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Unfortunately, they are far-reaching as well. If you get a DUI in California, regardless of your home state, you are subject to California DUI penalties. And, if your home state is a member of the Interstate Driver's License Compact, your home state DMV will be notified if you get a California DUI. This allows your home state to administer its own penalties. These penalties may be more or less severe than California DUI penalties, but regardless of what action your home state takes against your driver's license, California will suspend your California driving privileges after any DUI conviction.
If you do have an out of state driver's license, it is important that you know your rights. State licenses are typically under that state's jurisdiction. This means only your state can take action against your state driver's license. Thus, a California law enforcement officer does not have the jurisdiction to confiscate or suspend your home state driver's license. This is true even if you live in California but have a driver's license from another state instead of a California driver's license. In fact, a California law enforcement officer can only take action against your California driver's license and your California driving privileges. You may think this means you will get off easy if you get an out of state DUI, but that isn't the case.
Under the Interstate Driver's License Compact, your home state may have the jurisdiction to confiscate and suspend your license. The Compact treats each driver as having one license and one driving record for all states included in the Compact, and these are affected by out of state violations. Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are not member states of the Compact. This means if your license was issued by one of these states, the California DMV will not automatically forward information about your violation to your home state. This doesn't necessarily mean you can return to your home state penalty free, but it does mean your state may not necessarily include out of state violations on your driving record.
If your home state is a member of the Interstate Driver's License Compact, however, your California DUI will follow you home and appear on your driving record. You will face the standard penalties any Californian getting a DUI in California would face, plus whatever your home state may hand down to you. The California law enforcement officer who arrests you will give you a notice of suspension that will state your California driving privileges will be suspended in 30 days. Again, the officer cannot confiscate your home state license. The California DMV will process your case the same it would any California resident's case. You have ten days in which to request a DMV hearing to contest the suspension. If you wish to contest, consult with a California DUI defense attorney. You will need a California attorney who knows how to navigate California DUI cases to assist you with this step. If you prevail at your hearing, your California driving privileges will not be suspended. If you do not, your suspension will commence.
What happens after that will depend on how your home state handles out of state DUI convictions. Some states will suspend your license if California suspends your California driving privileges. Some states will only take action against your license if you are convicted of a DUI. You may face the same penalties as you would in California in your home state if your home state has similar DUI laws as California.
If your home state has different DUI laws, however, you may face different penalties. Because what happens in your home state may depend on what happens in California, it is crucial you first speak with a California DUI defense attorney if you are arrested for a DUI. A California DUI defense attorney will know the laws in California and how they may apply to you. It is important to first deal with the consequences you may face in California. If you fight your California DUI and prevail, you may not face any consequences in your home state. If you are unable to remain in California to deal with the DMV and criminal case process, you may be able to have your California attorney appear on your behalf. You cannot have an attorney from your home state assist you with your case unless they are admitted to the California Bar Association and are allowed to practice in California. You may still need to speak with an attorney in your home state, but this will depend on the outcome of your California case.
Do you have questions about out of state DUIs? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in DUI defense, our Visalia area legal team can help you face your charges and fight for your rights. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and has the experienced needed to skillfully handle your case. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.