It is estimated that over 42 million people visit California each year. With an abundance of tourist attractions, trendy bars, and world-famous restaurants, it is not uncommon for out-of-state drivers to be charged with a DUI while visiting the Golden State.
If you were arrested for drunk driving while visiting California, you face the same penalties as a California resident would. However, the DUI criminal process can be much more complicated. Our knowledgeable attorney could address any questions you may have about California’s DUI policies for out-of-state drivers.
After a DUI arrest, a California resident will have their driver’s license confiscated and be issued a temporary one that is valid for only 30 days. As an out-of-state driver, you are able to keep your license but you may receive a warning that your privilege to drive in California will be suspended after 30 days.
Law enforcement then immediately notifies the California DMV of your DUI charge. All states, except for Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Michigan, and Wisconsin, are a part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. The compact was created to ensure a DUI driver’s license suspension in one state would be honored in others. This means that if your home state is part of the compact, they will be notified of your DUI arrest and will likely suspend your driving privileges.
Both residents and non-residents have the right to fight the driver’s license suspension. To do so, you must file a request for a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. You do not have to appear at a California DMV hearing. Fortunately, a qualified DUI lawyer in the state can appear on your behalf.
Fighting your DUI charge is a completely different process than the DMV license suspension process for an out-of-state driver. You will need to navigate the California court system to address your DUI charge. If you are convicted of DUI, you face the penalties based on California law. These penalties can include jail time, probation, court-ordered alcohol treatment programs, community service, and hefty fines. You will be required to complete all of the terms of your sentence, and your home state will likely cooperate. Your driver’s license will be suspended in your home state and not reinstated until California confirms you met all of the conditions of your sentence.
In most misdemeanor DUI cases involving out-of-state drivers, you may waive your appearance and have your attorney appear in court on your behalf. If you have been charged with a felony drunk driving, you typically must be in attendance at all court hearings. However, your DUI defense attorney from California may be able to negotiate a waiver for your absence in court.
Although you are not required to have an attorney, having an experienced California DUI attorney drastically improves your chances of a favorable outcome. A lawyer could handle most aspects of your case, such as representing you at your DMV hearing, gathering evidence that supports your defense, and advocating on your behalf at your arraignment. Most importantly, they could negotiate to resolve your case favorably by having your drunk driving charge reduced or dismissed or obtaining alternative sentencing which would allow you to avoid jail time.
When hiring a local defense attorney, it is essential to find one with extensive DUI experience. Our seasoned DUI attorneys at the Law Offices of Scott Henry have over 40 years of experience handling misdemeanor and felony drunk driving cases, obtaining a proven track record of success. If you live out-of-state but were charged with a California DUI, contact our offices today for a free consultation.