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Got a DUI Out of State? Here’s What to Expect (2024 Update)

If you get a DUI in a state other than your home state, the consequences can vary depending on a variety of factors, but may include criminal charges, driver’s license suspension, an increase in insurance rates, and the requirement to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

What Happens if You Get a DUI in Another State?

According to SCLG, if you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in another state, it’s crucial to seek help from a DUI defense attorney in that state [1]. They can assist you with the DMV license suspension hearing and criminal court proceedings. A defense lawyer can represent you in these proceedings and work to reduce or dismiss the DUI charge.

Note that if you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in another state, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the arresting state will likely suspend your driving privileges in that state. The arresting state may also file criminal charges against you for DUI or DWI. If convicted, you will face penalties in the arresting state and the conviction will likely get reported to your home state (which could result in additional penalties) – SCLG.

Common penalties for a DUI conviction in most states include:

  • Jail time
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Misdemeanor probation
  • Fines
  • Completion of alcohol counseling or a DUI school

What to Do if You Get a DUI in Another State

California drivers aren’t confined to state lines. Whether traveling to neighboring states like Oregon, Nevada, or Arizona or renting a vehicle elsewhere in the country, holders of California licenses can drive across the U.S. However, driving in another state exposes drivers to that state’s specific traffic laws.

If you’re arrested for a DUI or DWI outside of California, dealing with the consequences can be more complex than if the offense occurred within the state.

A DUI arrest in another state can lead to the loss of your driving privileges in California, along with navigating the legal process in the jurisdiction where the arrest took place.

While an out-of-state DUI won’t directly revoke your California driving privileges, it can impact your ability to drive in the state where the offense occurred. The decision to suspend your California license rests with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) upon learning of the out-of-state DUI.

California Vehicle Code 15023 provides that a DUI conviction in another state has the same effect, for the purpose of suspending, revoking, or limiting the driver’s license, as if the DUI had occurred in California.

Which State has the Toughest DUI Laws?

There is a consensus that Arizona is the toughest state for a first-time DUI. The state is so stringent on first-time offenses that they have implemented programs typically reserved for repeat offenders.

Unlike other states where certain penalties are typically reserved for repeat offenders, Arizona imposes strict measures even for first offenses. For instance, the state mandates the use of an Ignition Interlock Device, which is commonly used elsewhere for repeat offenders or as an alternative sentencing option. In Arizona, having an IID installed is mandatory for a first offense. While Arizona was the pioneer in this approach, several other states have since adopted or encouraged the use of IID programs.

Another factor contributing to Arizona’s reputation is its immediate license suspension policy. Upon arrest for a DUI in Arizona, your driver’s license is confiscated on the spot without any grace period for you to contest the suspension or obtain a temporary license. In contrast, California suspends your license upon arrest but provides a 30-day temporary license while you request a DMV hearing.

Additional consequences for a first-time DUI offense in Arizona include mandatory drug and alcohol screenings, fines totaling $1,250, a minimum of ten consecutive days in jail, community service, and participation in a drug and alcohol education program at your own expense, which typically costs around $200.

Moreover, you must have an IID installed for at least 12 months, which includes installation fees ranging from $50 to $200, along with a monthly fee of $50 to $100. There are also maintenance and data fees associated with the use of the IID.

Arizona and California share a similarity in that both states enforce implied consent laws, meaning you cannot refuse a chemical test. Refusing a test can lead to an automatic license suspension.

Worst States for Drunk Driving in 2024

  • Montana ranks as the worst state for drunk driving incidents, with the highest rate.
  • New Jersey has the lowest rate of drunk driving incidents.
  • Four out of the top 10 worst states for drunk driving are located in the Western United States: Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and New Mexico.
  • Six out of the top 10 states with the lowest rates of drunk driving are in the Northeast: New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
  • Over 42% of drivers have witnessed a friend or family member drive after consuming more than one alcoholic drink.

Source: Forbes [2].

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