If you are an out of state driver, you can legally drive in California as long as you have a valid driver’s license from your state. Also, the out of state license should be for the type of vehicle you want to drive in California. DUI laws of California are stringent on drunk drivers regardless of your state of residence. If you drive with a blood alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit, you will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs. A conviction for DUI will trigger severe penalties, including suspension or revocation of your out of state driver’s license. If you or your loved one is charged with DUI and risk losing an out of state license, you will require competent legal guidance. At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we serve clients from Orange County, CA, to ensure the best outcome for your case.

Overview of Out of State Driver’s License in California

Considering age restrictions, you can drive with an out of state driver’s license in California. However, you will be required to have a valid license for the type of vehicle you want to drive while in California. If you are eighteen years old or older, there is no time restriction for which you can use the out of state license. As long as you are not a resident of California, your driver’s license will remain valid in your home state.

For out of state drivers who are seventeen or eighteen years, they will only be allowed to drive for ten days after entry to California. However, this limit will not apply if:

  • The minor has a valid driver’s license which was issued from their state of residence
  • They possess a non-resident minor's driver’s license from the California Department of Motor Vehicle
  • In addition to the license from the DMV, the minor files proof of financial responsibility

If you permanently move to California, you will be required to apply for a license from the Department of Motor Vehicle. You will need to obtain a valid license in California within ten days of relocating. However, if driving is part of your employment, you should visit the DMV immediately after becoming a resident of California. You will be considered a resident after moving to California if:

  • You pay resident tuition
  • You register as a voter
  • You file for a homeowners property tax exemption
  • You obtain the privilege of being a resident

If you move to California and fail to get a driver’s license within ten days, and you continue to drive, you will be charged with driving without a license.

California Vehicle Code 12500(a) – Driving Without a License

Vehicle Code 12500(a) of California makes it an offense to drive without a valid driver’s license. This will apply for individuals who fail to renew their license and those that have ever obtained a license. Also, if you move to California intending to stay but fail to get a new license within ten days, you will be charged with this offense.

If you are arrested and charged with driving without a license, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • You drove on the streets or a highway
  • You did not have a valid driver’s license at the time you drove
  • At the time you were arrested, you were legally required to obtain a license from the California Department of Motor vehicle

Most California vehicle-related offenses where the prosecutor needs to prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. However, for driving without a license, the prosecutor does not need to prove that you drove without a license. After alleging that you were not licensed at the time of driving, the burden of proving that you had a valid license will shift to you. If you are charged with driving without a license for failing to obtain a California license after moving, you will require the help of an attorney.

If you just moved to California and failed to obtain a license within ten days, you will be charged under Vehicle Code12500. Driving without a license can be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction, depending on your criminal history. When charged as an infraction, you will be required to pay two hundred and fifty dollars fine.

On the other hand, a misdemeanor conviction will attract the following penalties:

  • Up to three years of informal probation
  • Jail sentence of up to six months 
  • Fines not exceeding $1,000
  • Thirty-day driver’s license suspension if you are a repeat offender

If you are facing driving without a license charge for failing to obtain your license after ten days of being a resident, you will require a strong defense. Some of how you can contest your case is showing that you have visited the Department of Motor Vehicle to apply for a license. This can be done by obtaining records from the DMV.

Also, you can postpone your case and obtain a California Driver’s license. If you are not a repeat offender, it will be easier to delay your case.

Out of State Drivers Charged with DUI

Driving under the influence of drugs is not taken lightly for both drivers with a California license and out of state drivers. If you get arrested with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, you are likely to lose your driving privileges. If you are a resident, your driver’s license will be taken away, and you will be issued a temporary license that expires after thirty days. However, if you are an out of state driver, you will get a notice that your privilege to drive in California will get suspended in thirty days. Regardless of your state of residence, California DMV my permit you to continue driving with a suspended license upon installation of an ignition interlock device.

Ignition Interlock Device Installation 

An ignition interlock device is a Breathalyzer machine installed at the dashboard of your vehicle. If you want to continue driving on a suspended license and a judge order an IDD, you will be required to get the device professionally installed in the vehicles you drive. Before you start your car, you must blow into the device to provide an alcohol sample. If you do not give an alcohol-free sample, the vehicle will not start. Along the way, you may be asked to submit Random samples of your breath, and the results will be sent to the Department of Motor Vehicle.

An IDD in California is designed in a way that the car owner is the only one who can provide a sample. If another sample is detected, you will be faced with criminal charges. If you are an out of state driver, you will be required to install an IDD when your license is suspended for the following reasons:

  • A conviction for a first time DUI. If you are convicted for a first DUI with a BAC of 0.15% or higher, your license will be suspended. For this offense, you will be required to maintain an IDD for six months.
  • You are driving on a suspended license. You will be arrested and charged for driving without a permit if you operate a vehicle on California highways without a valid license. If you are an out of state driver, you need to have a valid license from your state. However, if you wish to be a permanent resident, you have to get a California license from the DMV. If you are convicted of driving without a license, the judge may order the maintenance of an IDD.
  • You are repeating a DUI offense. Driving under the influence of drugs is a severe offense in California. If you are convicted of a second DUI offense, the court will order the installation of an IDD for one year. Also, a third and fourth DUI will cause two and three years of IDD maintenance.
  • You failed to submit to a chemical test. If you get arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, you have the liberty to refuse the chemical tests. However, failure to submit to the chemical tests has legal consequences, including a license suspension. This may require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

After the arresting officer takes away your license and notifies you that your license will be suspended in thirty days, this information will be relayed to the DMV. You have ten days to contest the suspension of your license by requesting a DMV hearing. Regardless of your state of residence, you have the right to fight for your driving privileges. Also, both California and out of state drivers will be processed the same way when arrested for DUI. If you want to contest the suspension of your license by the Department of Motor Vehicle, you will require the guidance of a DUI attorney.

The DMV Hearing

A DMV hearing is an administrative hearing carried out at the DMV office. If you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in California, you will be required to request a hearing. If you fail to request the DMV hearing within ten days after an arrest, your driving privilege in California will get suspended after thirty days. Requesting the hearing puts a hold on the suspension of your license until the DMV hearing is over. You will be required to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicle for you to schedule a hearing.

A DMV hearing is held in an office setup presided over by a DMV hearing officer instead of a judge. However, you can still seek guidance and representation of a DUI defense attorney. At the hearing, you will have a right to:

  • Review and challenge evidence brought against you by the arresting officer
  • Present witnesses who could include individuals present at the scene and the arresting officer
  • Cross-examine witnesses who are testifying against you in the hearing
  • Testify on your half by giving an account of what happened.

Some of the factors that the hearing officer will consider when deciding to suspend your driving privileges, including:

  1. Whether or not the arresting officer had probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence of drugs. An officer can use your driving conduct such as over speeding and swerving as a likely cause to stop your vehicle
  2. Whether the arresting officer had a legal cause to arrest you for DUI. An officer will arrest you after performing a field sobriety test and also carry out a breath test. In most cases, you will get arrested when your blood alcohol concentration exceeds the legal limit set by California DUI laws.
  3. If you agreed to submit to the chemical tests at the time of arrest, failure to submit to a chemical test is an offense in California. However, at the DMV hearing, it should be clear whether the arresting officer informed you of the consequences of failing to take the tests.

With the help of a knowledgeable DUI attorney, you can present the following DUI defenses at the DMV hearing:

  • The Arresting Officer did not have Probable Cause to Arrest you for DUI. If you successfully argue that the officer lacked probable cause to make an arrest, they could set aside the suspension of your license. 
  • The officer did not follow the Right Procedure. In California, some regulations govern how breath blood and sobriety tests should be carried out. An officer is required to make an observation in the field sobriety test for a minimum of fifteen minutes. Failure to do this will jeopardize the results. Also, if you were coerced into taking the chemical tests, the results cannot be used against you in the DMV hearing.
  • Giving an Alternative Explanation for your High BAC. There are various reasons why alcohol detected in your breath could be high. This will include residual mouth alcohol, medical conditions such as diabetes, and a high carbohydrate diet. You may be able to win a DMV if you can provide a valid reason for your high BAC other than alcohol consumption. After considering all factors of your case, the hearing officer can reverse the suspension of your driving rights or decide to suspend the license.   

Interstate Driver’s License Compact

Most states in the United States of America belong to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. If you are an out of state driver and you get convicted for DUI in California, the conviction will affect your driving privileges in your home state. The concept of IDLC revolves around the fact that each individual has a single driving record in the country. In this case, a measure taken against your driving license in California will be reported to your state. When this happens, your state will impose its penalties on your license.

The type of action you get on your license after a DUI in California will depend on the state in which you reside

  • Some states will only take action against if you suffer a conviction for your DUI criminal case
  • In other states, you may be subjected to penalties as if you committed a DUI offense there
  • Sometimes your home state will take action on your license if California Department of Motor Vehicle did suspend your driving privileges
  • Other states you will face DMV penalties if the statues on DUI in your state matches those in California

With the help of a competent DUI attorney, you can have a chance at winning the DMV hearing and escape a license suspension from your home state.

DUI Criminal Case for an Out of State Driver in California

Regardless of the outcome of your DMV hearing, you will be involved in a DUI case. This court hearing will take place separately from the DMV hearing. If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, you can hire an attorney to represent you and negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf. Also, you will waive your right to being present in the hearing. If you take the case to trial, the court will determine whether you need to be present. However, it would be wise to attend the criminal case hearing if you are an out of state driver.

If you are successful in getting your DUI charges dismissed, you may not get a penalty from your home state. However, a conviction in your DUI criminal case will attract a suspension of your driving privileges in California. Also, your home state will be notified of the conviction and impose similar license restrictions as soon as you return home.

If you are convicted in California, you will be required to fulfill all the requirements of the conviction before your suspension is lifted. Some of the terms that are imposed on DUI offenders in California include probation, paying fines, and completing DUI School. If you are sentenced to DUI School, you can apply for a waiver. This will allow you to skip the DUI program requirement making it easier to get your driving privileges back.

After the period of suspension lapses and you complete all requirements mandated by the court, you can reinstate your driving privileges in California. You must contact the Department of Motor Vehicle and the court to get the reinstatement. Driving in California when your right has been suspended can attract additional charges for driving with a suspended license under California Vehicle Code 14601. 

The Driver’s License Agreement imposes stricter penalties on its member states and you as an out of state driver convicted for driving under the influence. This will allow states to suspend the driver’s license of individuals convicted for DUI in other member states. Getting arrested and charged with DUI in California will affect your license and driving privileges in your home state. If you are an out of state driver, it is essential to fight the DUI case so you can keep your driving privileges.

Reinstating your Driver’s License

If you do not request a DMV hearing or lose the hearing, the suspension of your driver’s license will go through at the end of thirty days. The period of suspension by the DMV will be dependent on the circumstances of the case and your criminal history. At some point, you may be eligible to reinstate your driver’s license. The following are the steps you need to follow for you to restore the license and get back your driving privileges:

  1. Enroll in DUI School. If your driver’s license is suspended for DUI in California, you will be required to enroll in a DUI program. If you are an out of state driver and the court mandates you to complete DUI School, you can request California DMV to waive the DUI program requirement. If you are a non-resident of California and you get convicted for DUI, the court will send a notice to the DMV upon your conviction, which suspends your driving privileges in California. If the waiver is accepted, the DUI program will not be a requirement, and you can receive a license from your home state. 
  2. Submit an SR22 insurance form. This is a certificate that indicates that you meet the minimum auto insurance requirements.
  3. Install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This is a Breathalyzer device installed on your vehicle to take your alcohol content before you start the vehicle.                                     

Find a DUI Defense Lawyer Near Me

A conviction for DUI in California attracts severe penalties even when you are not a resident driver. After an arrest, the Department of Motor Vehicle will attempt to suspend your driving privileges, and you will be required to request a hearing to contest a suspension. Also, you may receive a court suspension if you are convicted for a DUI criminal case. If you are charged with DUI and are a holder of an out of state driver’s license, you will require the help of an attorney. Fortunately, attorneys from Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer are ready to help you. Contact us on 714-820-9592 from any location in Orange County, CA, and allow us to guide you through the case.