DUI arrests and convictions bring both immediate and potentially long-term consequences, including fines, probation, installation of interlock devices, attendance at alcohol abuse classes, license suspension, and jail time. Some of these consequences cross state lines.
If you live in California and get a DUI while visiting or traveling through another state, you can face penalties in the arresting state and in California. To ensure fair treatment by both states and to mitigate the consequences of your charges as much as possible, trust your case to a drunk driving defense attorney from Simmrin Law Group.
What Is a DUI Charge?
An arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is issued to operators of motor vehicles whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit. In some states, the charge is called Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Except for Utah, all states and Washington D.C. consider drivers legally intoxicated or driving under the influence if they have a BAC of .08 or higher. In Utah, that limit is .05.
For commercial drivers, DUIs can be issued to those driving with a BAC of .04. Drivers under the age of 21 are held to even stricter standards. Most states hold a .02 limit for minors, though some go as low as .01.
Officers who pull suspected drunk drivers over can measure drivers’ BACs through a breathalyzer device applied at the scene, but for a conviction to hold, a follow-up breath, blood, or urine test must be administered after an official arrest.
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Can I Be Arrested for a DUI if My BAC Is Below .08?
In some states, including California, you can be charged with DUI if police believe your driving shows signs of impairment and your BAC is .05.
In Colorado and New York, you can be charged with Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) if your BAC is between .05 and .07 and your driving is noticeably erratic.
Do All States Have the Same Penalties for DUI Convictions?
Penalties vary from state to state. For example, Arizona, Tennessee, and Georgia have mandatory jail time for first-time offenders. In Wisconsin, a first offense is only considered a civil infraction, not a crime, punishable by a ticket.
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As a California Resident, Does an Out-of-State DUI Affect My California Driving Record?
California, along with 44 other states, is a member of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (IDLC). By entering the IDLC, states agree to share information about driving-related arrests and convictions, including DUIs. If your DUI arrest takes place in an IDLC state, that state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will give California’s DMV the details of your arrest.
If convicted, you will face the criminal penalties of the state in which your arrest occurred and may face California DMV penalties as well. California will determine if the conviction is equivalent to or “substantially similar in nature” to laws outlined in Section 15023(c) of the California Vehicle Code. Since California has some of the nation’s toughest DUI laws, it is most likely your conviction will “pass” this equivalency test.
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What if My Arrest Happens in a Non-IDLC state?
The only states not in the IDCL are Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. If your arrest occurs in one of those states, that state might not share the information with California. You will still face that state’s criminal charges and penalties if convicted.
However, if you apply for a license or renewal even years after this arrest and/or conviction, the California DMV will discover your history through the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS).
How Can the Problem Driver Pointer System Affect My Ability to Get a California License?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created the PDPS to “assist chief driver licensing officials of all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.)” This centralized database contains information on drivers who have been convicted of serious driving-related offenses, or whose driving privileges have been suspended, revoked, or denied.
Under federal law, licensing officials must submit relevant information to PDPS. When an individual applies for or attempts to renew a state driver’s license, state licensing officials use PDPS to determine the person’s driving history and eligibility.
Will California Issue Me a License with an Out-of-State DUI Conviction?
The California DMV will consider two factors when determining whether to issue you a California license:
- Whether you would be ineligible for a license under California law had you committed the offense in California.
- The status of your driving privileges in your home state.
If I am California Resident Arrested in Another State, Where Do I Serve My Sentence?
If your DUI arrest and conviction occurred in another IDLC state, you can face both DMV and criminal penalties in that state and DMV consequences, such as license suspension or revocation, in California. You can expect the issuing state to revoke your driving privileges there. The state may also require court appearances, though, for misdemeanor offenses, you can often waive those appearances or have your lawyer appear on your behalf.
For felony offenses, you will need to appear in court yourself. The specifics for how criminal and DMV punishments are carried out vary by state. Each state has its own methods for reporting and handling driving-related arrests.
If you are required to attend alcohol abuse classes or are issued probation, the arresting state will probably permit you to serve those sentences in California.
If I Am Convicted in Another State Before Becoming an Official California Resident, Will My History Follow Me?
If you are moving to California from an IDLC state, your driving history will travel with you across state lines. When you apply for your California license, the California DMV will research your driving history. DUI convictions issued in other IDLC states will be seen by the California DMV.
Why Do I Need a Defense Attorney?
Out-of-state DUI or DWI arrests are complicated. Navigating the laws of the issuing state and the repercussions you will face from the California DMV is a daunting task and one that requires a swift response and legal expertise. To secure expert representation and protect yourself from damaging consequences, contact Simmrin Law Group for a free consultation today.