Drivers arrested on suspicion of DUI / DWI in California face consequences both at the California Department of Motor Vehicles and in their home states, as a result of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact.
The California DMV cannot revoke an out-of-state license because it is considered the property of another state. However, California can suspend a driver’s privileges within the state, and will notify the licensing state of the DUI / DWI arrest through the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. The best way for an out-of-state licensee facing a drunk driving charge in California to protect his or her license is to fight suspension at the California DMV hearing. An experienced DUI / DWI attorney can challenge the DMV’s action, and vastly improve a driver’s chance of keeping his or her license.
The Interstate Driver’s License Compact is an agreement between 45 states to share information regarding certain types of convictions, including drunk driving, DUI/ DWI, and driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) convictions. If the driver’s license was issued by one of the 45 states, the licensing state may revoke the motorist’s driving privileges.
Whether a state will take action against a driver’s license depends on the state itself. There are five states that are not a party to the agreement, and will not take any action. These states are Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Michigan.
Other states have an administrative system similar to California’s. These states may acknowledge an APS suspension even without a court conviction in California. States that don’t have an administrative system may require a court conviction before they will take any action against a driver’s privileges.
The type of action taken depends on the state as well. Some states duplicate the actions of the state where the arrest was made. For example, if California suspends a driver’s privileges within that state for four months, the licensing state may suspend for the same length of time. Other states may enhance the action, or even require the payment of fines. Other states may be more lenient.
The best way for out-of-state drivers to retain their licenses after a California DUI / DWI arrest is to avoid having their driving privileges revoked by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. A lawyer who specializes in California drunk driving cases can provide information about the driver’s home state licensing policies and challenge a DMV hearing