The state of California is one of the most popular destinations for work, travel, visiting family, or tourism. In many cases, you will need a car to move around with flexibility. Unfortunately, having a vehicle could cause many complications if you drink and drive. DUI arrests are one of the most common criminal cases in California. These cases can be hard to deal with for an out of state resident who has an out of state driver’s license. It could mean that the person returns to his/her state and challenge those charges or present him/herself before a judge back in California.
If you have an out of state license and have been arrested for DUI in Orange County, call the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer law firm as quickly as possible. Our experienced DUI defense attorneys will help you understand the rights you have as well as your options. We may also help you to fight the charges against you so that you don’t lose your license. Even better, we may represent you so that you don’t have to come back to California to make an appearance in court.
An Overview of California DUI Laws
California is one of the U.S states that have the strictest DUI laws. These laws apply equally to every driver in California, either an out of state or state driver. Therefore, before we look at additional details that out of state drivers arrested for DUI must know, let us look at what California DUI laws require in general.
VC 23152a Regular DUI
VC 23152a DUI is the basic DUI law in California. This law provides that it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle under the intoxication of alcohol or drugs.
For being under the influence of drugs, this DUI law prohibits driving under the intoxication of any form of an intoxicating substance. This means you could be charged with DUI of drugs irrespective of whether the drug you consumed was illegal, over-the-counter, or a prescription.
Under VC 23152a, driving under intoxication means your physical or mental abilities are distorted. It means the extent of distortion would not enable you to operate a vehicle with caution as a sober driver would do.
The above is the ordinary definition of being intoxicated or under the influence, whether the prosecutor alleges that you operated a vehicle under intoxication with alcohol or drugs. The prosecutor does not need to specify whether your trial is of being intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. All he/she has to do is show you drove under intoxication with some substance.
Generally, VC 23152a is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. However, the prosecuting attorney can charge you with a felony in case you are found guilty of four or more DUI offenses within ten years. Also, if in the past, you were found guilty of a felony DUI offense, you may be charged with a felony.
VC 23152b Driving with a BAC of .08% or More
VC 23152b is another common DUI law in California. The reason is when it’s a DUI that has to do with blood or breath sample, VC 23152a, and VC 23152b are charged together.
VC 23152b forbids a person from operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more. This law is otherwise called the ‘per se law.’ This law presumes that when you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more, then you are automatically guilty of driving under the influence. You could be convicted of DUI even if you were not technically impaired. What matters is that your blood alcohol concentration was more than the stipulated legal limit.
Just like VC 23152a, VC 23152b is also a misdemeanor. However, if you were previously convicted of a felony DUI, you will face felony charges. Also, if you have four or more DUIs on your criminal record within ten years, you will be charged with a felony DUI.
VC 23153 DUI Causing Injuries
VC 23153 is charged any time a severe injury occurs as a result of driving under the influence. Like VC 23153, VC 23153, DUI law has two subdivisions. One subdivision deals with regular DUI, and the other deals with driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more.
Also, like VC 23152, VC 23153 is a wobbler offense. This means the prosecutor may charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor. What charge you face is based on how severe the injuries are, the extent of recklessness when driving, and your criminal record.
VC23612 Refusal to Take Chemical Tests
Another DUI law in California that is often prosecuted as a sentence enhancement is refusing to take a chemical breath or blood tests. Currently, most of the states allow officers to obtain blood samples by force from the alleged offenders who attempt to decline chemical tests. They do this in an attempt to do away with the refusal concept. In case the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) succeeds in implementing this concept, the remaining states will soon be taking forced blood samples. NHTSA is the country’s number one authority on DUI cases.
Currently, in case you decline to perform a blood or breath test, you probably will not be prosecuted under VC 23152b or section b of VC 23153. Both of these sections deal with unlawful BAC levels. However, you can still be prosecuted under VC 23152a. If guilty, your license will automatically be suspended for at least one year.
Criteria for DUI Arrests for U.S States
Congress established the BAC level to be above or at 0.08%. This means that if the alcohol amount in your blood at the time of driving is at or above 0.08%, you will be considered legally under the influence of alcohol.
Each state uses this standard for regular, non-commercial drivers. Thus, in case you are arrested for DUI in California, it is most probable that you will be arrested for DUI in the state you come from. The penalties for driving under the influence can vary between States. Certain states like California punish DUI offenders more harshly compared to others. For instance, other states will impose lighter DUI sentences than others. However, each jurisdiction has the legal right to punish an offender in the way it sees fit.
California Driving Under the Influence Arrests and Out of State Drivers
If you reside in California and get arrested for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or more, the officer who arrests you is required by law to confiscate your driver’s license. After confiscating it, he or she will issue a temporary license to you. The license is usually pink in color, and it expires in thirty days. When the temporary license expires, your California driving license suspension takes effect immediately.
Here is another case scenario. Let us say you do not reside in California, but are arrested drunk-driving in California on an out of state driver’s license. In this case, the arresting officer has no jurisdiction to confiscate your driver’s license. This applies regardless of which state you come from. Instead, the officer issues you with notice of suspension. The purpose of this notice is to notify you that your privileges to operate a vehicle in California will be suspended in thirty days. After thirty days, you cannot drive on any public road in California. However, you can still challenge the automatic suspension of your California driving privilege through a DMV administrative hearing. It is essential to note that driving in California is a privilege and the Department of Motor of Vehicles (DMV) can deny you that privilege when you get arrested for DUI.
The DMV may allow DUI offenders to continue operating their vehicles at the period when their licenses are suspended. The condition for continuing to drive is that these offenders must agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles. Under Senate Bill (SB) 1046 of 2018, if you are an out of California resident, you can seek a waiver (known as 1650 waiver). If granted the waiver, you will be allowed to attend any DUI school program that has been ordered by the court in your home state.
After the arresting officer either confiscate your driver's license or issues a notice of driving privilege suspension, the DMV will immediately be notified. The DMV allows ten days so that you can stop the license suspension. The days are counted from the day you were arrested. We advise that you get an experienced DUI attorney to challenge the license suspension on your behalf. This way, you have a chance of retaining it than if you fight the suspension on your own.
To stop the suspension, you have to request a DMV hearing, or you could let your attorney request the hearing on your behalf. Note that you have the right to a hearing irrespective of whether you are from California or are an out of state resident. This is so because both California residents and out of California drivers arrested for DUI undergo the same processing procedure.
After you request a hearing, your driving privilege or driver’s license suspension is postponed until after the hearing takes place and the outcome established. The hearing itself may be delayed for months.
Note that even if you are a California resident but still possess an out of California driver’s license, you are still treated as an out of State Driver. Therefore, it means that the officer can’t seize your driver’s license. Your home state will be informed of your arrest if it belongs to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact.
The DMV Process for Out of California DUI Drivers
Note that not requesting a DMV administrative hearing within ten days of your arrest will have you lose that right. In this case, the license suspension will be effective thirty days after the arrest.
As we mentioned earlier, requesting a hearing in ten days after your arrest postpones your license suspension. The suspension won’t be effective until and unless you lose the hearing. You don’t have to attend the hearing if you have an attorney representing you. The attorney can attend the hearing for you. Also, the hearing does not have to occur in person; it can even happen over the phone.
For the suspension to take place, the arresting police officer has to prove the following facts:
- He or she had reason to believe you were driving under the influence
- He or she arrested you legally
- When you were driving, your blood alcohol concentration was .08% or more
A DMV hearing is not as formal compared to criminal court proceedings. However, during this hearing, your right to attorney representation still stands. An experienced DUI defense lawyer is conversant with how effectively he/she can argue your case. He/she knows the tactics to use to prevail during the hearing to prevent license suspension.
If you lose at the hearing, your California driving privilege is suspended. How long the suspension is will vary. The variation depends on the number of DUI offenses you have been convicted of. Generally, if you are a first-time offender, the suspension will go up to four months. However, after thirty days, the suspension can be changed to a restricted license. The restricted license allows you to drive to or from DUI School and work. However, the DMV may allow you to continue to drive in case you install an IID in your vehicle.
The Interstate Driver’s License Compact
Suspending your California driving privilege will most definitely affect your driving privilege in the state you come from. This is since all U.S states, except for six are members of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. The six exception states include Massachusetts, Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The Interstate Driver’s License Compact’s main concept is that each driver has one driver’s license and one driving history. States that belong here report all driving arrests, DUIs included to one another. Thus, the home state in which you come from will most probably take action against your license in case you get arrested for DUI in California.
The severity and type of that action depend on your home state. Certain states will only take action in case the California Department of Motor Vehicle suspends your driver’s license. In other states, the DMV at your home state penalizes you as though you were sentenced for DUI there. Other states will only act if you face a criminal sentence. In other states, you may be penalized only if the state where you come from has similar DUI laws as California.
Out of State Drivers Arrested for DUI and California Courts
Whether you lose or win your DMV hearing in California, the proceeding for your DUI case has to take place in a criminal court. This is still the case even if you do not demand a hearing. The Superior Court in California takes action that is apart and separate from the California DMV.
Unlike California DMV hearings, criminal court proceedings cannot happen through the telephone. However, based on the facts of your case, your DUI defense lawyer might appear to the proceedings for you. In case you are facing misdemeanor California charges, it is possible to waive the right to being there while the attorney does the following:
- Negotiates a deal with the prosecutor
- Obtains evidence
- Appears for the proceedings for you
This is especially so if you opt for a California attorney to represent you. However, if it is a felony, you must attend all hearings. Though based on your past criminal record, your attorney may negotiate a waiver with the court about your absence.
If you opt for your case to proceed to trial, the judge will decide whether or not you have to appear for the trial. However, to lay a good strategy, we recommend that you attend your trial. This is because, it is more likely that a jury will convict you in case they have not met, made eye contact, or seen you.
In case you succeed to have your charges dismissed or reduced, the state where you come from may not take action. However, if you get convicted of DUI in California, you will be sentenced in California. Moreover, your California driving privilege will be revoked or suspended. Also, it is more likely that the state where you come from will impose similar restrictions on your license after you go back home.
If the state where you come from restricts your license, the restriction cannot be undone until you comply with your California driving under intoxication duties. This means you have to complete all the requirements of probation which the court imposed against you. They include completing the DUI School program in California and paying fines.
After completing these obligations and the privilege suspension period has ended, your DUI attorney or you have to contact the DMV and court. This is to inform them so that they can reinstate your privilege of driving in California. At this point, it is more likely that the state where you come from will lift the restriction or suspension on your license.
Note that opting to continue driving in California at the time when your privilege to drive is suspended, subjects you to additional charges. The charges include VC 14601 driving with a revoked/suspended license. In California, DUI offenses are priorable. This means your jail time and fines will increase automatically with every conviction. Also, the convictions are reported to the state where you come from under the Driver’s License Compact.
The Drivers’ License Agreement
Soon, the Drivers’ License Agreement will replace the Drivers’ License Compact. After being enacted, the Drivers’ License Agreement will have even stricter rules for the states that are its members. In turn, this means tougher rules and regulations for out of state offenders arrested for DUI.
The primary difference between these two bodies is that the Drivers’ Licence Agreement will eradicate state differences between crimes. As per the Drivers’ License Compact regulations, a state does not have to effect an out of state conviction. Neither does it have to effect an out of state driver’s suspension in case that state does not have the same statute. However, as per the Driver’s License Agreement, this would happen.
DUIs for College Students with Out of State Driver’s Licenses
Orange County has several universities and colleges that admit students from all over the country and the world. Several out of state students retain their home state licenses for many years while attending school in the state of California. This makes dealing with a driving under the influence case more complicated.
During the period that the student attends school in California, he/she would be able to solve his/her pending DUI case in a California court. However, the student could still lose his/her driving privilege in his/her home state. Also, the student might be forced to go back to his/her home state to have their driver’s license reinstated, or travel back to complete the necessities to have his/her home-state driving privilege restored.
It’s common for college or university students in the state of California who possess a driver’s license from another state to be arrested for a suspected DUI of alcohol or drugs. Your Orange County DUI defense lawyer can expound on the DUI process and what is to be expected to put you at ease.
Summing up, a DUI arrest in any U.S state could have significant consequences on your license in the state where you come from. Challenging California DUI charges is equally essential for out of California residents as it is for any resident of California. This is especially to avoid the strict requirements of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact and the Driver License Agreement.
Find an Expert DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
DUI charges can lead to severe consequences. If you are an out-state driver arrested for DUI, you may have several questions about your specific case. Thus, you must consult an expert California DUI defense before proceeding. Call the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer as soon as possible at 714-820-9592. We will explain your rights and options, and at the same time help you fight the charges against you.