How to handle a California DUI arrest when you have an out-of-state driver’s license?
It happens. A driving under the influence arrest occurs when you are in California. Yes, this will be an inconvenience. No, your world will not come to an end. If you have found yourself in this unfortunate situation, having a clear plan for dealing with the issue is crucial.
There are steps that you should take if found in this predicament.
1. Within ten days of arrest, contact an attorney or the California DMV
The first step you will want to take if arrested for a DUI in California is to contact the DMV within ten days or an attorney who can assist you with the administrative hearing. Suppose you plan on continuing to drive in California, or want the chance to challenge the license suspension. In that case, you must contact the California DMV within ten days. If you do not, your driving privilege in California will end in 30 days.
You should request a hearing even if you do not plan on driving in California. There are some reasons that you would want to do this.
First, suppose you do not challenge the suspension of your privilege to drive in California on your out-of-state license. In that case, you will lose the right after 30 days.
Second, suppose you do not request a hearing to challenge the suspension. In that case, you will lose the opportunity to obtain police reports, videos, and other evidence through the administrative hearing process. The administrative hearing through the DMV may be your first opportunity to get clear proof to use on your behalf to challenge a license suspension and the related criminal proceedings.
Finally, suppose you do not request a hearing to challenge the suspension. In that case, you may find that your home state has suspended your driving privilege. A suspension can happen because most states participate in the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. However, most states will not take action against your home state license simply because of a DUI arrest in California. In most instances, a suspension of your home state license would only occur if there is a conviction in California for driving under the influence. In that scenario, your home state would, in most instances, if notified of the California DUI arrest and suspension, suspend your home state license.
2. Contact a California DUI Attorney who can represent you with the criminal charges for driving under the influence.
If you are cited for driving under the influence in California, you will receive a citation with a court date. In most California counties, you can retain an attorney who can appear in court on your behalf. While each county is different, Penal Code section 977 authorizes an attorney to appear on their client’s behalf in most misdemeanor cases, including driving under the influence.
Through the court process, your attorney will have the opportunity to discover and analyze the information and request videos and other relevant information for your defense. You will be able to discuss your case with your attorney to determine how you should proceed based on the evidence. Your attorney can determine if charges can be reduced.
If this occurs, there is a chance that your home state will not suspend your license. There are also other diversion programs available in California that you should discuss with your attorney.
3. If convicted of driving under the influence in California, you must take specific steps to terminate the California suspension.
The court must impose a California driving under the influence program following a conviction. Now, if you do not reside in California, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to complete an in-person California DUI program. If faced with this problem your attorney can request that the court waive the requirement or allow you to complete a similar course in your home state. While the out of state program would not meet the California requirement to later obtain a California license following a DUI arrest and conviction, it can be substituted by the court for the required course.
The California DMV will notify your state of the conviction following the conviction. If this occurs, your home state may suspend your license. If a suspension is imposed, you will need to meet the requirements of your home state to have the suspension lifted. Those requirements will vary depending on the state where your license was issued and the type of license you hold.
To drive again in California and have the California hold lifted, you will need to contact the California DMV at the expiration of the suspension period. California Vehicle Code section 13353.5(a) provides that an out-of-state resident can contact the California DMV following the expiration of the suspension period and request that the suspension be terminated. The California DMV may terminate the suspension upon the person’s written application to allow them to apply for a license in their home state. You will need to provide proof to the California DMV of residency in the home state.
To contact the DMV and request the required form (DL 1650) you will need to call the Mandatory Action Unit at (916) 657-6525. Before doing this, you may want to determine if you will need to have an SR22 (proof of financial responsibility) on file with the DMV. The DMV will then send you the form. You must complete the form, provide the required information and send it back to the California DMV.
The California DMV would lift the hold once the form is received. You should then be able to have your home state license reinstated. You could also drive in California on your out-of-state license if it has been reinstated. If you follow this procedure, you will not be required to complete the California DUI course.
As you can see, there will be several different government agencies you will have to deal with.
We hope this provides some answers and points you in the right direction. However, please remember that the information included herein is not intended to be legal advice. If you need help regarding your specific situation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office or an attorney in the county of residence where you were arrested.