People arrested for driving under the influence in another state should contact a DUI defense attorney in that state for help. Most DUI cases will involve appearances for a DMV license suspension hearing and for criminal court proceedings. A defense lawyer can often make these appearances on your behalf and also help you fight a DUI charge, possibly getting it reduced or dismissed.
Note that if you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in another state, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the arresting state will likely suspend your driving privileges in that state. The arresting state may also file criminal charges against you for DUI or DWI. If convicted, you will face penalties in the arresting state and the conviction will likely get reported to your home state (which could result in additional penalties).
Some common penalties that most states impose for a DUI conviction include:
1. Will your driving privileges get suspended for an out-of-state DUI?
Most often, yes. If you get arrested in another state for a DUI offense, the DMV in the arresting state can suspend your driving privileges. A suspension means that you cannot legally operate a vehicle in that state.1
In most cases, drivers can challenge a DMV’s decision to suspend a license at a DMV suspension hearing. Drivers have to request this hearing shortly after their arrest. State laws differ in how soon a person has to make a hearing request.2
A suspension of driving privileges will usually become final if a driver:
does not request a hearing, or
requests a hearing and does not attend it.
2. Will the arresting state charge you with a crime?
Most often, yes. The arresting state will likely charge you with a DUI offense. DUI charges are filed under a state’s particular DUI laws and charges are usually for:
You have the right to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to these charges.
Once a case gets filed, there are usually several court appearances that people have to make in the life of DUI cases. A judge can issue a bench warrant for a person’s arrest if the person fails to appear for any of these appearances.
But note that most state laws say that people arrested in DUI cases involving misdemeanor DUI charges can:
waive their court appearances, and
have their DUI lawyers appear in court on their behalf.
Generally, though, defendants must appear personally in court for felony DUI charges.
Keep in mind that the criminal court proceedings for a DUI are distinct and separate proceedings from the DMV hearing proceedings for a DUI.
While the latter focus solely on the suspension of an arrestee’s driving privileges, the former focus on what, if any, criminal penalties a judge may impose for the DUI offense.
3. What penalties can a driver receive for an out-of-state DUI?
The specific penalties that a person may face for an out-of-state DUI will vary depending on the arresting state’s particular DUI laws.
With that said, however, some common DUI penalties imposed in most states include:
the arresting state’s DMV will inform the DMV of your home state regarding the details of the DUI arrest, and
if there is a DUI conviction, your home state can impose its own DMV penalties (which are in addition to the penalties imposed by the arresting state).
Under the IDLC, states share driver’s license information and traffic violation records with other states for legal purposes. Under this compact, crimes committed by drivers in one state can get treated as if they were committed in another state, including a person’s home state.
The only states that are not member states of the IDLC include:
Even with these states, though, they will likely learn of an out-of-state DUI arrest.
Keep in mind that you will still be able to legally drive in your home state after a DUI arrest (for at least a short amount of time until your home state learns of the arrest). Note, too, that police officers usually do not have the authority to confiscate an out-of-state license.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.