If a person is arrested for DUI in California and they have an out-of-state license, the DUI officer is not allowed to seize the license. Rather, the driver receives notice that his/her privilege to drive a motor vehicle in California will be suspended in 30 days. As with California license holders, the arrestee has ten (10) days to request a DMV hearing to contest the suspension. Setting up the DMV hearing postpones any suspension pending the outcome of the hearing. The California DMV usually notifies the driver's home state of the arrest and of any suspension; the DMV of the home state may suspend the drivers license if the arrest results in a conviction.
The Drivers License Compact
Most states, including California, belong to the "Drivers License Compact": an agreement that obligates each member to share information about an individual's driving history. The idea is "One Driver, One License, One Record." Upon learning of the out-of-state offense, the home state regards the offense as if were committed at home and applies the home state's penalties. The reciprocity ranges from assessing points for a speeding violation to suspending one's license for a DUI convuction. All states belong to the Drivers License Compact except for Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Tennessee and Massachusetts.
This means that if you suffer a DUI conviction in California, the DUI will appear (and remain) on the DMV records maintained by each member state. If you hold an out-of-state license, expect the issuing state to impose the DMV consequences it normally imposes for a comparable DUI conviction. Thus, fighting a California DUI charge is usually just as important for non-residents as for Californians.
You Need Not Be Here To Fight Your California DUI
Many of our clients reside out-of-state but sustained a DUI arrest while visiting California. As long as you are charged with only misdemeanor DUI, we can (in most cases) represent you without you having to come here for court appearances. Two exceptions exist. First, if your case goes to trial, you should attend. Although judges will sometimes allow DUI defendants to waive their appearance (even at trial), it is much easier for a jury to convict someone they've never seen. Second, we may need your testimony at a pre-trial hearing to contest the traffic stop or arrest. If traveling here is logistically difficult, we will do everything we can to avoid making it necessary.