What You Should Know About Receiving a DUI in a State Other than Where You Are Licensed
In many cases, drivers understand the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) laws in the state in which their license was issued and what effects that can have on their driving privilege and their criminal record. In the unfortunate event that a driver should receive a DUI or DWI charge in a state other than the one he or she licensed in, while on vacation or traveling, it can sometimes be confusing to understand the consequences and how to fight the charge.
It is important to know that, in almost every state, being arrested for DUI or DWI will trigger two series of events that are separate from one another – the first is a license suspension in the state you were arrested (we will call this State B) and/or a license suspension in your home state (we will call this State A) and the second is the prosecution of the DUI or DWI charge through State B’s legal system. How you handle both of these series of events will have a profound effect on the outcome and your future.
When DUI charges are pending in another state, getting immediate free DUI lawyer advice early on can minimize the stress and uncertainty of trying to establish a winning legal defense strategy to get out of a DUI case from out of state. Expert legal help in time will also give a DUI defendant the best chances to avoid a license suspension in their home state.
Information on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
In every state, the Department of Motor Vehicles will have a procedure which it will follow in order to suspend a driver’s license before their DUI or DWI case goes to court. There are two reasons the DMV will use when suspending a driver’s license:
- The driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was above the legal limit
- The driver refused to take a Breathalyzer or other test to determine BAC
The process of having the driver’s license suspended usually begins when the arresting officer sends a report about the arrest to the DMV in State B. The driver then has a limited amount of time to file a petition against having his or her license suspended – this time period often varies from one state to the next. At this point in the DUI arrest proceedings, the suspension will only apply to State B where the arrest took place. If you are denied an appeal or do not file one, the suspension in State B is final.
At this point, State B will report the final suspension to the DMV agency in the driver’s home state, State A. The laws in State A will often determine whether or not the driver will also have his or her license suspended in that state. This will also vary from one state to the next – for example, a suspension in another state would not affect a driver’s right to drive in Maine but in the state of Massachusetts the driver’s license will be suspended until the suspension placed on the driver by State B has concluded.
It is also important to keep in mind that the penalties for a license suspension for DUI or DWI will affect the driver in any and all states in which his or her license is suspended. For example, if your license is only suspended in State B where the DUI or DWI took place, you will likely have to take alcohol education courses and pay fines only in State B. If your license is suspended in both State A and State B, you will likely have to take the courses and pay fines and/or the reinstatement of your license in both states.
Information on the Criminal Proceedings of the DUI or DWI
After being arrested for DUI or DWI, the arresting officer or court system in State B where the arrest took place will give the driver a summons to come to court and enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. In many cases, the driver will be bailed from court and the plea will be entered during that time. It is important to know that important deadlines regarding your DUI or DWI will usually begin after you have given your plea – meeting all of these deadlines and court hearings is important to avoid having a bench warrant issued for your arrest for not making the required court appearances.
Before the initial court date, it is important to have retained a knowledgeable DUI or DWI attorney that understands the DUI laws in the state in which you were arrested. This is an important part of fighting a DUI charge that occurs outside of your home state. A DUI attorney will be able to review your case, look for any flaws in the procedures the officers followed during your arrest, and hopefully help you to reduce the jail time, fines, and increased license suspensions that you may face if found guilty.
In the event that the driver is convicted of DUI or DWI, this conviction, along with any fines, jail time or increased licenses suspension punishments will be reported to the driver’s home state (State A). This often becomes an issue for drivers who may have already been convicted of DUI in State A. For example, if you are arrested and convicted of DUI in Maine, the state of Maine will treat it is a first offense. If you already have a DUI conviction in Massachusetts and Maine reports your DUI conviction, Massachusetts will treat this as a second offense and assign the appropriate punishments for that second offense.
It is important to know that avoiding the penalties you have been given in State B can often mean more problems and penalties handed down from State A. For example, if the driver’s license is suspended in State B, reported, and then suspended in State A, it is important to adhere to both of those suspensions – being pulled over and cited for driving with a suspended license in either State A or State B can often mean a longer license suspension and even the addition of fines and jail time to your consequences.
How to Fight a DUI Charge that Occurred Out of State
One of the first and most important things a driver should do when they are arrested for Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated in another state is to seek the assistance of an attorney who is well versed in the DUI and DWI for the state in which the arrest took place. It is important to retain the help of a knowledgeable DUI attorney as soon as possible after being arrested in order to ensure the best possible outcome for the criminal case as well as the suspension and fines the driver may incur.
When choosing an attorney who specializes in DUI and/or DWI, there are some important indicators to look for:
- Extensive experience/track record
- Has worked DUI cases in the state you were arrested
- Board Certification as a DUI Defense Specialist from the National College of DUI Defense, Inc.
The experience of the attorney that you hire is very important – navigating DUI and DWI between two states can often be a very difficult process. Make sure to do the appropriate amount of research when choosing an attorney, making sure to hire one that ideally specializes in DUI and DWI law, will be able to help you through the criminal case, and explain the different outcomes you may face.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.