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What If I’m from Another State but Get Arrested for Drunk Driving in San Diego?

By Criminal Defense Attorney on October 30, 2017

Driving under the influence is a very serious crime in California, and one that comes with serious penalties. For out-of-state drivers, it can be even worse. So what happens when an out-of-state driver gets arrested for drunk driving in San Diego?

California Driving Privileges Suspended

When a California driver gets arrested for drunk driving within the state, the arresting officer will take his license and replace it with a temporary license that will expire in 30 days. But out-of-state drivers can keep their licenses, although they will be informed that their privilege to drive in California will expire in 30 days. In either case, the California DMV will be notified and the person being charged will have ten days to challenge the suspension by requesting a DMV hearing.

The privilege to drive in California will be postponed until that hearing has been held and an outcome has been determined. The hearing will not happen within ten days; in fact, sometimes it can take months. No driver, whether residing within California or not, is required to be present at the hearing. These hearings can take place over the phone, or a California DUI attorney can appear for the accused.

When out-of-state drivers are facing a California DUI, they need to hire an attorney licensed to practice in the state of California.

License Suspension at Home

When an out-of-state driver chooses to leave California and return home, there is a good chance that his driver’s license will still be suspended in that state. This is because most states, with the exception of Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, belong to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (IDLC). States that are members of the IDLC are required to report arrests to the driver’s home state if that state belongs to the IDLC as well.

When the driver’s home state is informed of the arrest, it can handle it a number of ways. It may:

  • take the same action as the California DMV;
  • only take action if the driver is criminally convicted;
  • charge the driver as though he had been arrested within that state; or
  • only punish the driver if that state’s laws are similar to California’s laws.

Must Appear in California Court

The arrested driver may have to appear in California court. Court cases cannot be held over the phone but, like the DMV hearing, the driver may choose to allow an attorney represent him without being present. The presiding judge will determine if this will be allowed. (Even if the courts allow the attorney to act on the driver’s behalf, all drivers are recommended to attend court hearings.) Cases often include a jury, and juries are more likely to side with the accused when they can actually see him or her in person.

If the charges are reduced or dismissed, the driver’s home state may not take further action. But if convicted, the driver will be required to fulfill all obligations that come with a California DUI conviction. These include paying fines and attending DUI course in California. The driver’s license will also be suspended in California and most likely in his home state as well.

Once the suspension period is over and the driver has fulfilled all obligations, he must contact the California DMV and courts to get his license back. When the license is reinstated, the home state will likely reinstate driving privileges as well.

Need to Hire a California DUI Attorney

Being charged with drunk driving in California is always a lengthy legal matter. But when the driver charged is from another state, it becomes even more complicated. If you are an out-of-state driver who has been charged with a California DUI, you need an experienced California criminal defense attorney on your side. And you can find one at JD Law. Our founding attorney is a board-certified criminal defense specialist, and a former narcotics investigator with the LAPD. Call (760) 630-2000 for a free consultation today.

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