Out-of-state drivers can get arrested in California for DUI if they drive under the influence of alcohol or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater. Criminal charges of these offenses can result in consequences in both California and a motorist’s home state. It is critical for non-California residents to contact a skilled California DUI attorney if they experience a California drunk driving arrest.
Note that if an out-of-state driver is arrested for DUI, the California DMV will suspend that person’s California driving privileges within 30 days of the date of the arrest. A driver can challenge this suspension, but to do so, he/she must request a DMV hearing within 10 days from the arrest.
A California DUI arrest, and the filing of DUI charges, will also trigger a DUI criminal court proceeding. This proceeding is in addition to a DMV proceeding regarding license suspension, and focuses on the possible imposition of criminal penalties for a DUI offense, including:
- jail time,
- fines, and
- alcohol counseling.
While non-California residents cannot ignore these proceedings, they can possibly have their California lawyer appear in court on their behalf. This means the parties can waive any personal court appearances.
Please keep in mind that California will most likely inform an arrestee’s home state of a California DUI arrest and any criminal convictions that stem from it. One result is that the home state may punish the offender for DUI under its own DUI laws. This sharing of information among states is authorized and encouraged per the Interstate Driver’s License Compact.
Our California criminal defense attorneys and DUI defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. What should out-of-state residents expect following a DUI arrest in California?
- 2. Do I need to ask for a DMV hearing?
- 3. Do I have to appear in California court for a DUI?
- 4. What penalties can an out-of-state driver receive for a California DUI?
- 5. Will a person’s home state find out about a California DUI?
1. What should out-of-state residents expect following a DUI arrest in California?
If a driver in California is stopped and arrested for DUI, police officers often base the DUI arrest on the suspected violation of either:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152a VC (driving under the influence of alcohol)1, or
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152b VC (driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater)2.
This is true no matter if drivers are California residents or out-of-state drivers.
If a driver with a California State driver’s license is arrested for drunk driving, the arresting officer will take the arrestee’s license and give the person a “temporary” license that is valid for 30 days.3 The California DMV will then suspend the arrestee’s driving privileges after the 30 days expires.4
Note, though, that police do not generally have the authority to confiscate a driver’s license issued by another state. This means an out-of-state driver arrested for a California DUI can keep his/her license.
However, the California DMV will still suspend the motorist’s California driving privileges, and the suspension takes effect 30 days after the date of the DUI arrest. A suspension means that the out-of-state resident cannot legally operate a vehicle on a California roadway.
For more discussion, see our article on What happens if you get a DUI out of state?
2. Do I need to ask for a California DMV hearing?
An out-of-state driver must request a California DMV hearing if the motorist wants to challenge the suspension of his/her California driving privileges (which again occurs 30 days after a DUI arrest).
The affected driver has to make this request within 10 days of the party’s DUI arrest.
Out-of-state residents that request a DMV hearing can learn more of the hearing process by reviewing the California DMV’s website. They can also review our page on “How to Win DMV Hearings in California DUI Cases.”
Note that, per California DUI law, out-of-state drivers are entitled to the same rights as California residents at these hearings. Some of these rights include the right to:
- representation by a criminal defense attorney or DUI lawyer,
- review evidence presented by the DMV,
- present evidence before the DMV, and
- appeal an adverse decision.5
3. Do I have to appear in California court for a DUI?
In most DUI cases involving misdemeanor DUI criminal charges, non-California residents can waive their court appearances and have their defense lawyers appear in California courts 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 California DUI are distinct and separate proceedings than the DMV administrative 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. This is true for both in and out-of-state drivers.
4. What penalties can an out-of-state driver receive for a California DUI?
A California DUI conviction can result in severe penalties and hardships for both in and out-of-state drivers. Per California law, some of these penalties include:
- jail time,6
- substantial fines,7
- DUI school,8 and
Keep in mind that these penalties can increase depending on a party’s:
- driving record,
- prior DUI offenses, and
- criminal history.
5. Will a person’s home state find out about a California DUI?
Most likely, yes. If your home state is a member of the Interstate Drivers’ License Compact (IDLC), then two likely occurrences will take place following a California DUI. These are:
- the California DMV will inform the DMV of your home state regarding the details of the DUI arrest, and
- if there is a DUI conviction in California, your home state can impose its own DMV penalties (which are in addition to the penalties imposed by the State of California).10
While these penalties will usually depend on your state’s laws, they may include:
- probation or jail time,
- a suspended license,
- fines, and
- community service or alcohol/drug counseling.
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.11
The only states that are not members of the IDLC include:
- Tennessee, and
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer/DUI attorney, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group. Our attorneys provide both free consultations and legal advice you can trust.
- California Vehicle Code 23152a VC. For more information, see California Jury Instructions, CALCRIM No. 2110. See also People v. Schoonover (1970) 5 Cal.App.3d 101; People v. Enriquez (1996) 42 Cal.App.4th 661; and, Mercer v. Dept. of Motor Vehicles (1991) 53 Cal.3d 753.
- California Vehicle Code 23152b VC. For more information, see California Jury Instructions, CALCRIM no. 2111. See also People v. Fish (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 462; Coffey v. Shiomoto (2015) 60 Cal. 4th 1198; Burg v. Municipal Court (1983) 35 Cal.3d 257; People v. Bransford (1994) 8 Cal.4th 885; and, People v. Milham (1984) 159 Cal.App.3d 487.
- See California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, “Driving Under the Influence (DMV).”
- See same. Note that the DMV may allow people to continue to drive during their license suspension period (for example, on a restricted license) if they get an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their car. See Senate Bill 1046.
- See California DMV website, “Administrative Hearings.”
- See, for example, California Vehicle Code 23536a VC.
- See same.
- See, for example, California Vehicle Code 23538b VC.
- See, for example, Vehicle Code 23600b1 VC.
- For general California rules in relation to the Interstate Drivers’ License Compact, see California Vehicle Code 15020 – 15028 VC.
- See same.