A driver arrested on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in California who is licensed in another state faces unique challenges because of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (IDLC). The IDLC is an agreement by 45 states to share information about driving-related arrests and convictions. An experienced California drunk driving defense attorney can advise whether the IDLC will affect a driver’s privileges in his or her home state.
Only five states – Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Michigan – are not part of the IDLC. The other 45 states have agreed to notify one another when a driver is arrested or convicted of DUI / DWI. This means that an individual arrested for drunk driving in California may face a suspended license and/or a fine in the state that issued the driver’s license.
California Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests trigger two separate cases – with the court and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When a driver is arrested for drunk driving in California, the state DMV automatically begins the process of suspending the driver’s privileges in a process known as administrative per se (APS). The driver has only 10 days from the date of arrest to request a DMV APS hearing. If no hearing is requested, the license will automatically be suspended.
How that suspension affects the driver’s privileges in his or her home state depends on whether that state recognizes and acts upon administrative suspensions from another state, in this case California. Some states are completely reciprocal, meaning that if California suspends a license for four months, the licensing state will do the same.
Other states will only recognize or take action after being notified of a DUI / DWI court conviction. Among the states that will only act upon a court conviction, some will only take action if the burden of obtaining a criminal conviction in the other state is equal to the home state. Some states may add additional penalties, and some will impose fewer consequences than California.
The good news for DUI drivers licensed in states that belong to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact is that despite promises to notify one another about driving-related crimes, communication between the states remains poor. If California never communicates the driver’s loss of privileges to the licensing state, no other action will be taken. If the driver’s home state takes no action to rescind privileges, the driver still holds a valid license, and can continue to drive legally in every state except California.
Although a California drunk driving arrest can create problems for an out-of-state driver in his or her home state, that’s not always the case. A California lawyer experienced in defending DUI / DWI cases for out-of-state drivers can explain how the Interstate Driver’s License Compact will affect a driver’s privileges both in California and in his or her licensing state.