Orange County receives many tourists annually. The majority of these tourists are from outside states and come to have a good time. During their vacation, some end up taking a few too many drinks and then get behind the wheel. If you are one of these people who drive while under the influence and you are stopped for intoxicated driving, you might not know what to do, especially if you are only familiar with your home state laws. At The Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm, we assist you in understanding out of state DUI arrest and how it affects you both in California and at home.

California Out of State DUI Arrests

If you are visiting California as a tourist or for work, you must understand that the state DUI laws apply to everyone, even to the non-residents. Remember nationwide, California is one of the states with the sternest DUI laws. Some of the DUI offenses you can be charged under are VC 23152 (a) & (b).  If you are arrested with a BAC level of .08% or higher or under the influence of drugs, the law will apply to you equally whether you are Californian or not. The same BAC level of .08% is the one set by congress as a legal limit for all states. It means that if you are considered drunk in California as an adult, even in your home state, you will be deemed drunk. The only difference between states is punishment. If you are from another state, once you are stopped, and the arresting officers discover you are intoxicated, and the levels are beyond the legal limits, the officer will notify you that your driving license will be withdrawn temporarily after thirty days. The officer can, however, not confiscate your license because it was issued outside the state. For California residents, the arresting officer will confiscate your license and issue you with a temporary one, which will only serve you for one month. 

Driving Privilege Suspension after an Out of State DUI Arrest

Driving in California is a privilege in which the DMV has the mandate to deny you. So, although your license cannot be confiscated, after30 days, your driving privileges will be suspended. However, the DMV cannot take away your driving privileges in the home state. The only way to prevent the DMV from suspending your driving privileges by requesting a DMV hearing within ten days after a DUI arrest to contest the suspension or winning the DUI case in court. Out of state residents of California follow the same procedure in the DMV hearing, so you will need an attorney who is familiar with DUI laws in California for legal guidance. The attorney will explain the DMV and court processes.

California DMV and Out of State DUI

If you request a DMV hearing within the stipulated time, the suspension is withheld until the case is concluded. The suspension can only be implemented if you lose the hearing. The DMV will withhold your driving rights if the officer who made the arrest can prove that:

  • They had judicious reason to believe you were driving while intoxicated
  • The arrest was within the legal standards
  • Your blood alcohol concentration was .08% or above when the arrest was made

A DMV proceeding is not as formal as a court proceeding, but still, you can opt to have an attorney, especially if you are unfamiliar with California DUI laws. There are two ways the outcome of the DMV hearing can go. First, if you lose, the privileges will be suspended based on your previous DUI convictions. For a first offense, license suspension goes for one hundred and twenty days. After the first month, the suspension can be converted to a restricted driving license but only for California drivers. If you win the case, you get to keep the driving privileges both in California and your home state.

If you come to California, get a DUI, then go back to your home state, you still have to deal with the DMV. The decision, however, depends on whether you plan on coming back to California. You can wait until the suspension period is over then file an out of state waiver with the California DMV, notifying them that you are from another state and you won’t be driving in California.

But if you continue staying in California, you will not be driving until the suspension period is over. The reason for this is that California only converts the suspension to a restricted driving license solely for the drivers issued with the state license. In case your license is from another state, then you won’t be driving until the suspension is lifted. 

California Driver getting an Out of State DUI arrest

If a California driver is arrested and charged with a DUI in another state and then returns home, many things can happen. The California DMV might not learn about the arrest if you were not convicted or license suspended. But if the DMV is aware of the arrest and conviction, they might force you to take classes and submit SR-22 form. You will also pay a fee of one hundred and twenty-five dollars.

The IDLC can transfer an out of state DUI arrest to the California DMV. This can only happen if the laws of the state where you were arrested for driving under the influence are closely related to those of California. So, if you have been arrested in a state where BAC legal limit for minors is below the legal threshold in California, the case cannot be transferred to California because, according to them, there is no violation of the law. If you had not reached the limit, even if you are convicted in another state, California cannot suspend your driving privileges.

After the conviction of an out of state DUI, your name goes up in the National Driver’s Register. Every state Department of Motor Vehicles handling your case can easily access your record from the register. If your name is in the file, you might easily be denied the application for a driver’s license in any state.  

The Interstate Driver’s License Compact

Your home state is going to be informed about your arrest and suspension by the DMV, but only if it is a member of the Interstate Driver License Compact.  As per the compact, minor, and major traffic violations and DUI records out of state are shared among state members of the compact to hold drivers accountable for their actions. The member states of the compact include all but not:

  • Georgia
  • Massachusetts
  • Wisconsin
  • Tennessee
  • Michigan

All the other states in the country, aside from the preceding five, believe that a citizen can only hold one driver’s license and one driving record. So, whatever traffic violations you are convicted of out in a different jurisdiction will be reported in your state so that they can take their own action.  Even if you flee California after the DUI arrest and go back home, you cannot escape the penalties of the offense.

The type of action taken by your state after a DUI arrest depends on several things. Some states will take action only if:

  • The California DMV suspends your license
  • You are convicted of DUI in California
  • The penalties of California are similar to those of your home state

The IDLC will soon be replaced by the Driver License Agreement (DLA). Once IDLC is replaced, the main difference between offenses among various states will be scraped

California Court Proceedings and Out of State DUI

When you are arrested for driving under the influence, you have to undergo the court and the DMV process. The court proceeding is compulsory, whether you win or lose the DMV hearing. The criminal court action is separate from that of the DMV. You or your DUI defense attorney must be present in the court proceeding. If you go back to your home state, your attorney in California will represent you. For the attorney to represent you, you must waive your right to be present while:

  • Your attorney collects evidence
  • Negotiates with the prosecution attorney
  • Appears before court

If you don’t have an attorney, you must be present in the trial; otherwise, an arrest warrant will be issued against you by the court. The decision on whether you must appear or not depends on the judge. For your benefit, even if the judge allows you to be away on your hearing, the verdict of the court might be against you because the jury might not be convinced of your innocence because they haven’t seen you or made eye contact. But if you are present, you can easily avoid a conviction; it will be easy to believe what your attorney says about you.

Keep in mind that your prior DUI convictions will determine if you will be allowed by the judge to come back to California for a court hearing. If you have been previously convicted of a felony DUI, the judge will require you to appear in all court hearings. An attorney can, however, convince the court to allow you to waiver, but it will solely depend on your criminal history.

In the event, you are successful in convincing the jury of your innocence, you don’t have to worry about your driver’s license suspension and DUI penalties at your home state. But, if you are convicted, your driving privileges will be suspended in California and even at your home state. You will only begin to serve home state DUI penalties after completing those of California. It is essential to note that if you ignore the license suspension after an out of state DUI conviction, then you will be subject to severe penalties under VC 14601.

Penalties for California out of State DUI Conviction

Although you are not a driver from California, being convicted of a DUI in this state has the harshest penalties. Some of the penalties include:

  • Jail sentence
  • Huge fines
  • Community service
  • Mandatory DUI School

In most cases, if it is your first DUI conviction, you might not be required to serve time in jail. Instead, you are granted misdemeanor probation. But if it is a second, or third and subsequent DUI felony conviction, you might be required to serve a mandatory jail sentence. DUI in California is a priorable offense meaning that your previous convictions will increase the penalties for subsequent convictions. After completing your punishment in California, the next step is to remedy the action taken against you by the home state. Remember that if you were sentenced to a drug or alcohol class, if you are forced to undertake the program in California, once you have completed the program, you don’t have to take the same program or classes in your home state. One program in any of the states will give you credit in the other.

Handling DUI Warrants Out of State

A lot of out of state DUI drivers never serve their complete sentence or probation. Others never appear in court at all once they have left California. After several years, if you are one of these drivers that never showed up for a DUI court proceeding or completed probation, you might discover that you have a DUI warrant. You might not realize if the warrant has been issued until you go applying for college or looking for a job. With a DUI warrant, your future is at stake. You will need a DUI attorney to provide guidance.

Effects of a DUI Warrant

These can have serious repercussions even for out of state drivers. The warrant is put in the national database, meaning that you cannot be issued with a driver’s license in any state until the warrant is inactive. A DUI warrant will also appear on your criminal record, creating problems when you are looking for a job or when seeking a promotion if you already have a job. If yours is a misdemeanor warrant, you might not be extradited. However, for felony warrants, the state will extradite you so that you can deal with probation violation. You will be put in custody until you are moved to California. If an extradition warrant is issued against you, you can fight the court order to avoid going back to the state you were charged to face punishment. Some of the common legal arguments you can use include claiming that the identity of the person named in the warrant isn’t yours. Also, you can contest that the documents filed by the prosecutor are incorrect.

You might be wondering if it is a must you return to California to deal with an old DUI warrant. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor DUI, your attorney could appear in court on your behalf instead of having to travel from your home state for a hearing. If it is a drug and alcohol program that you failed to complete in California, you don’t have to go there to undertake the program. The judge can order you to go through the same program in your home state.

Serna Motions in Out of State DUI Arrests

You might have been arrested for an out of state DUI in California and charged but never received a notification of being arraigned in court. You cannot be blamed for such a thing. Despite that, a DUI warrant will be issued, and because you returned to your home state, you might not know about it for years. If you are in such a situation, your attorney will file a Serna motion. The purpose of the petition is to dismiss the warrant because of untimely prosecution. If you were never notified because of late charges and the court establishes that you were denied a speedy trial, the charges will be removed, and the DUI warrant will be rendered inactive.

The Driver License Agreement (DLA)

As said earlier, the DLA is soon going to replace the IDLC. The main objective of the move is to enact stricter regulations among member states to improve highway safety and provide fair treatment of drivers. DLA also aims at reducing the standards for identifying drivers. It means out of state drivers arrested for DUI will face harsher penalties. An out of state DUI conviction or suspension will be enforced even if the laws between your home state and the state where you were convicted differ. The punishments will also be the same, which means a Californian driver will be no different from an out of state driver after a DUI arrest. Out of state drivers will, therefore, take DUI charges seriously and will put the same efforts like those of Californians to fight the charges. 

Find a Orange County DUI Defense Attorney near Me

If you or a loved one visited Orange County for a vacation and was arrested for drunk driving, we invite you to reach out to Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm at 818-253-1913. We understand that a DUI conviction in one state will affect you in another, which might result in a lot of lost opportunities in addition to harsh penalties. Contact us today for a free consultation on an out of state DUI arrest over the phone.