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Out of State Licenses and DUI Arrests in California

What You Need to Know About Out of State Licenses and DUI Arrests in California

California is a popular destination for tourism, work travel, or visiting family. In most cases, you need the flexibility of a car to get around in California. Unfortunately, this can complicate things if the driver is visiting wineries, having a drink with dinner, or celebrating with friends. Even a couple of drinks can put the driver at risk of a DUI.

Drunk driving arrests are some of the most common criminal charges in California; however, they can be very difficult to deal with for someone who lives in another state with an out-of-state license. This may mean having to return to the state to appear before the judge or challenge the charges in court.

If you have an out-of-state driver's license and are arrested for a DUI in California, talk to your experienced East Bay DUI defense attorney to understand your rights and your options. Your experience lawyer can help you fight to keep your license and may be able to represent you without having to return to California just to appear in court.

What happens after a DUI arrest in California if I have an out-of-state license?

When someone with a California driver's license is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the officer will take away the driver's license and give them a paper “temporary” license. However, California law enforcement generally doesn't have the authority to take away a license issued by another state.

When someone with an out-of-state license is arrested for a DUI, the driver can keep their license but their driving privileges in California will be suspended in 30 days. After 30 days, the driver cannot operate a vehicle on any public roads in California. However, out-of-state drivers can still fight the automatic driving privilege suspension through a DMV hearing.

Do I need a DMV hearing if I have an out-of-state license?

If you are only visiting California temporarily, you may not need to request a DMV hearing. However, if you plan to be driving in California in the near future, a DMV hearing could be a chance to keep your driving privileges. People working or going to school in California may need their car to get around, even beyond the 30-day temporary driving period.

If you want to fight the administrative suspension, you need to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your DUI arrest. If you do not request a DMV hearing in time, you will lose your chance to challenge the loss of your California driving privileges.

Even if you live out of state, your East Bay DUI attorney can generally represent you without you having to go to the hearing.

Will my home state find out about the DUI arrest?

In most cases, your home state will find out about your California DUI arrest. Most states, including California, share information with other states through the Interstate Driver's License Compact (IDLC). Under the IDLC, states can transmit information about traffic-related arrests, criminal charges, convictions, and license suspension to other states, including a driver's home state.

Depending on where the driver's license is from, the penalties for a drunk driving arrest may be even harsher than they would be for California. However, in some cases, a DUI arrest will lead to a suspended license.

Can I lose my driving privileges in my state after a California DUI?

It is up to your home state to restrict your driver's license after a DUI arrest or conviction. California can generally only restrict your driving privileges within the state if you have a license issued by another state.

Driving penalties related to a DUI vary by state. In some states, a first-time DUI can result in a suspended license for up to a year. After your driving privileges are suspended in your home state, you generally have to complete your state's requirements to get your license reinstated. This may include:

  • DMV school,
  • Requesting a restriction, 
  • Waiting out a suspension period, and
  • Paying reinstatement fees.

Do I have to return to California to appear in court for my DUI case?

If you live out-of-state, you may be able to have your DUI defense lawyer appear on your behalf for court appearances. If you don't have a lawyer, you will be responsible for appearing in court or risk having a warrant issued for your arrest.

Talk to your DUI attorney about how you can fight DUI charges without having to return to California for every court appearance. In some cases, it may be better for your defense if you are present in court. However, many of the court appearances can be made by your lawyer appearing on your behalf.

DUIs for College Students in the East Bay With Out-of-State Licenses

The East Bay is home to a number of colleges and universities with students from across the country and around the world. A number of students from other states keep their home state's driver's license for years while they go to school in California. This can make dealing with a DUI even more complicated.

While going to school in California, the student will be able to deal with their pending criminal case in court. However, the student may still lose their driving privileges in their home state and may have to return to get their license reinstated or complete the requirements to get their home-state driving privileges restored.

It is not uncommon for college students in California with an out-of-state license to get arrested for a DUI or drug DUI. Your East Bay DUI defense lawyer can explain the process and put you at ease knowing you are not alone.

What are the penalties for a DUI for someone who lives in another state?

Even if you live in another state, if you are convicted for a crime in California, you will have to deal with the consequences of a California DUI. This means that you will generally face the same criminal DUI penalties as a California driver.

The penalties will depend on the individual case, but may include:

  • Jail,
  • Fines, and
  • Restricted driving privileges.

Most first-time DUIs in California will not require jail time if probation is granted.

A 2nd DUI, 3rd DUI, felony DUI, or DUI causing injury may require a mandatory minimum amount of time in jail. The penalties that come with a more serious DUI conviction generally do not depend on where your license was issued.

East Bay DUI Defense Attorney

East Bay lawyer Lynn Gorelick has more than 37 years of DUI defense experience defending clients in facing DUI charges, including drivers with an out-of-state license. She is a sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense, the Past President of the California DUI Lawyers Association,  and has access to its attorney members nationwide. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI in Oakland, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Orinda, Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore Fremont, or anywhere in Alameda or Contra Costa Countycontact East Bay Criminal Defense Attorney Lynn Gorelick.

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