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What happens if I get arrested for a DUI, DWI or OUI and I live out of state?

If you are visiting California for business, pleasure, or just passing through, driving in California will subject you to California traffic and criminal laws. An arrest for driving under the influence (DUI, DWI, OUI) of drugs or alcohol can be stressful but it is even more complicated for driver's who live in a different state.

DUI charges for out-of-state drivers are more complex to deal with because there are separate criminal and administrative penalties involved in a DUI. The criminal charges are dealt with in the state where the DUI occurred. However, your driving privileges can be restricted or taken away both in California and your home state.

Instead of trying to figure out how to deal with a California DUI when you live out of state, talk to an experienced East Bay DUI defense lawyer. Your attorney can advise you of the process for keeping your driving privileges and represent you in both the DMV proceeding and the criminal court.

For more information, see our Out-of-State DUI page.

Administrative Penalties Triggered by DUI Arrest for Out-of-State Drivers in California

When a California driver is arrested for a DUI, the police confiscate the driver's license and give them a temporary paper license. However, if you have a driver's license from another state, the California police or highway patrol cannot take away your license. Instead, your right to drive in California will be suspended after 30 days.

Drivers from other states may not worry about losing their California driving privileges if they are leaving the state within 30 days. However, there may be reasons for trying to keep your California driving privileges. If you have to return to California for some reason during your criminal case, you may want to be able to drive to and from court.

Additionally, your home state may suspend your license if your driving privileges are suspended in California.

If you want to challenge your administrative license suspension action in California, you need to request a DMV administrative per se (APS) hearing. You only have 10 days to request a DMV hearing after a DUI arrest. The easiest way to take care of the DMV hearing is to contact a California DUI defense lawyer who can request the hearing and challenge the suspension on your behalf.

Home State Administrative License Suspension After a California DUI Arrest

Even if your DUI occurred in another state, your home state or state where your license is issued may suspend your driving privileges based on the other state's suspension. Most states (including California) are part of the Interstate Drivers License Compact (IDLC).

States that are part of the ILDC share information about traffic violations and license suspension/revocation. Depending on your state, your own motor vehicle department may suspend your license based on an arrest in another that that would qualify for a license suspension if it had occurred in your state or suspend your license after an out-of-state conviction.

You Have to Face the Criminal Charges in California

Even if you do not intend to drive again in California or are thinking about never returning to California ever again, you need to address the criminal case in California. This may be less painful than you thought. If you live out of state, you may be able to have a California DUI defense lawyer appear on your behalf.

Additionally, you may have to satisfy the California criminal charges before you can get your driving privileges reinstated in your home state. Depending on the state, you may have to complete the probationary requirements of the criminal case before you can get your driving privileges reinstated after a DUI. This may include:

  • Paying all court costs and fines,
  • Complete DUI school,
  • Complete community service,
  • Waiting out any mandatory suspension period,
  • Install an ignition interlock device (IID), and
  • Provide proof of SR-22 financial responsibility.

Dealing With Your DUI in Two States  

Getting a DUI in one state when you have a driver's license in another state can sometimes mean you are dealing with a DUI in 2 states and 2 motor vehicle departments. This can make the consequences of a DUI even more expensive and time-consuming than a standard DUI. One way to make it easier is to contact an experienced DUI lawyer to challenge the license suspension and fight the criminal charges.

Lynn Gorelick is on the faculty of and a sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense.  She has experienced contacts in all states. Contact a knowledgeable East Bay DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after your California DUI to make sure you don't get caught with a suspended license and can keep your driving privileges in all 50 states. East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of DUI experience and understands how to challenge DMV hearings and DUI criminal charges.

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