Out of State Drivers

Special Problems in Criminal Court for Out-of-State Drivers

It happens all too often: a driver from Nevada is arrested for a DUI in California, but he has a Nevada driver’s license. If you are visiting California and you are charged with a DUI, you may encounter certain events and restrictions that will affect you differently than if you were a resident of California. The first thing you should do is consult with an experienced California DUI attorney.

Court Appearances

Unlike most criminal cases, and unlike requirements for California residents, a misdemeanor DUI offense for an out-of-state driver does not require an appearance in court if you have secured legal representation. In fact, if you have been charged with a crime, you do not have to be present for a variety of phases. These phases include discovery, plea bargaining, and most other court appearances. This can come in handy if you are facing California criminal charges, but cannot currently be physically present in the state of California. The Golden State is a popular vacation spot, and waiving your right to appear in certain court proceedings may be a necessary option for you if you must return to your home state while the court proceedings go on.


When the time comes for trial, the judge will make the determination on whether or not you must appear. In general, even if the judge does not demand your appearance in court, it is advisable to attend so that the jury can place a face to a name, and see the physical person whose future they will deliberate. If the jury is merely deliberating upon a name and some actions associated with it, they don’t have the person that they are going to be serving a conviction in front of them to really feel the weight their decision. Essentially, your physical presence has the potential to get you lesser charges or even a not guilty verdict. Once the trial is over, the events may still impact you in your home state even though the crime was committed in California.

  • Not Guilty: If you are acquitted, or your charges are dismissed, it is likely that you may not experience any repercussions of this charge in your home state. This is entirely dependent on your home state’s policies and regulations.
  • Guilty: If you are found guilty, your state may also impose sentencing on you, and you will have to fulfill duties according to your sentencing per California law first. This means that if you are required to fulfill any fines, jail time, or DUI classes imposed by California law before you can fulfill anything that your home state has imposed upon you.

If you are in California from out of state and experiencing DUI charges, you need a lawyer who knows the ins-and-outs of California DUI law. A California DUI attorney can make sure you don’t suffer ramifications in this state or your home state.

Special Problems at DMV for Out-of-State Drivers

When you face DUI charges in California, but you do not reside in the state, you may face unforeseen consequences.

Out-of-state drivers that are arrested on DUI charges have special circumstances in court and they also still need to go to the DMV. While the State of California cannot reject your home state’s license, you may lose your privilege to drive in California.

DMV Hearing

When you are arrested on a DUI charge, you must request a hearing from a California DMV within ten days of your arrest.

Failure to make this request will result in the forfeiture of your right to have a hearing at all. If this happens, your license will be suspended and it will be effective 30 days after the date of the arrest. It is very important to get this hearing, otherwise your suspension could result in a lengthy loss of your right to drive in California before there is even a conviction.

The hearing itself does not guarantee that you will be granted your right to drive; instead it postpones the suspension. The suspension will go into effect if you do not successfully prevail at the hearing. Similar to a court case, you have the right to have your attorney represent you for this hearing. You are also not required to be present at the hearing, and if necessary, the hearing can be conducted via phone. At the hearing, the officer who conducted the arrest will have to prove the following:

  • The officer had probable cause to believe that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • The officer conducted a lawful arrest
  • Your blood alcohol content at the time of driving was at or above the legal limit of 0.08%

If your attorney is representing you at this hearing, he or she will formulate a strong defense and may be able to prevent a suspension. Defensive methods will rest on casting doubt on one of those three burdens of proof. Things like casting doubt on the validity and legality of the arrest, exploring whether the officer’s assumed “probable cause” was true, or even calling into question the quality of the equipment used to test your blood alcohol content can be used as defenses to prevent a suspension at this hearing. You may even see some of these things employed in court as well to defend against the criminal charges, as a means for creating reasonable doubt. If you are successful in this hearing, your suspension will be prevented, but you will still have to face criminal charges, which may carry a mandatory suspension if you are convicted.

If for whatever reason, you are not successful at the DMV hearing, your right to drive in California will be suspended.

The length of suspension will depend on prior DUIs and other driving history. You may have the opportunity to obtain a restricted license that allows you to drive to and from work as well as to DUI program to which you belong. Although it is not necessary to have attorney representation at your DMV hearing, it can be highly advantageous to have representation from a skilled and experienced DUI attorney, as they will likely be handling the criminal charges as well.

Interstate Driver's License Compact

DUI charges in California are a serious matter. For drivers that come from outside of the state, these charges can follow them home. When arrested for a DUI while visiting California, the first and most important thing to do is to get a hearing with the DMV. This hearing, if successful, can postpone the immediate suspension of your driving privileges within the state. If your driving privilege is suspended in California, this can have an impact on you back in your home state.

The first thing to remember is that your driver’s license is endorsed and upheld by your own home state, so California does not have the right to revoke or suspend your actual license. However, the State of California does have the ability to suspend your privilege to drive within its territory. Your DUI charges will also be pressed upon you by California. In addition, due to an agreement between certain states, you may find there are consequences for your actions in California that affect you in your home state.

Interstate Driver’s License Compact

The Interstate Driver’s License Compact is an agreement between states to uphold standards for a driver’s license even though each state is its own separate body. Depending on where you are from, you could face varying consequences. Certain states will only take action for convictions, others will take action simply at the arrest. There are also some states that will suspend your license if the California DMV moves forward on suspension of your driving privileges.

Convictions Under IDLC

While effects of a conviction vary from state to state, if your home state belongs to the IDLC, you may end up suffering the same or similar consequences back home. Every conviction is reported to the IDLC. Due to this any actions taken against your license can come back to haunt you after you leave California. The only states that do not enforce IDLC regulations are Georgia, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Tennessee. If you are unsure of how your home state will react to your charges in California, you should consult your state or county’s local DMV. In most cases, if your home state does not have an equivalent statute to California’s DUI statute, you will not necessarily suffer the same penalties as you would in California. Since states across the board will handle a DUI differently, it can be hard to tell what the exact outcome will be.

The best way to avoid negative repercussions in your home state is to avoid a conviction. Contact a California DUI attorney immediately after your arrest so you can take the proper next steps to defend against the charges.