Special Problems in Criminal Court for Out-of-State Drivers

Special Problems in Criminal Court for Out-of-State DriversOut-of-state drivers arrested in California for drunk driving face specific issues at both the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and in criminal court. An experienced California DUI / DWI criminal defense attorney can minimize complications for out-of-state drivers in both cases.

Making numerous court appearances can be extremely difficult for out-of-state drivers who were in California temporarily at the time of arrest and must return to their home states. However, a California DUI / DWI lawyer can appear on the driver’s behalf in some cases.

If the case has been filed as a misdemeanor, California law allows a defense attorney to appear on the driver’s behalf. This allows the driver to return to life in his or her home state while the attorney aggressively fights the charges.

Some DUI / DWI cases, particularly those involving accident or injury, may be filed as felonies. Generally, felony defendants are required to be present at all court appearances. However, a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate with the court to make appearances on the driver’s behalf, or successfully argue that the charge be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Potential court penalties in a California DUI / DWI case include jail time, fines, and probation. However, a qualified California drunk driving defense lawyer can work to keep those consequences to a minimum.

Another problem encountered by out-of-state drivers in a DUI / DWI case involves California’s implied consent law. Drivers in California agree to submit to a blood, breath or urine test when suspected of driving under the influence. California drivers make this agreement when applying for a California driver’s license, and out-of-state drivers enter into this agreement merely by driving in the state. Anyone suspected of drunk driving who refuses to take a chemical test violates this agreement, and faces additional penalties.

The courts have ruled that requiring a driver to submit to a breath, blood or urine test to check for the presence of alcohol does not violate the driver’s constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure. The test is allowed without a warrant because of the relatively short length of time that alcohol remains in the body. If a warrant were required, evidence in a DUI / DWI case could disappear while police were obtaining a warrant.

Many out-of-state drivers are unaware of California’s implied consent law and the repercussions of refusing to take a chemical test. This could have even greater consequences against an individual’s driving privileges in California. In California, driving privileges will be suspended for one year for a first refusal, two years for a second refusal, and three years for a third refusal.

A suspension of driving privileges in California likely will affect driver’s license in his or her home state because of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, an agreement among states to share information about driving-related crimes. Only Wisconsin, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Michigan are not part of this agreement.

Although the consequences of a California DUI / DWI arrest can be severe for an out-of-state driver, an experienced drunk driving criminal defense lawyer can fight on behalf of the motorist to protect driving privileges in the driver’s home state, and effectively minimize repercussions.

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