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Prior to the Information Revolution brought on by the computer and the internet, a DUI conviction in one state rarely had interstate consequences. More often than not, the out-of-state client was treated better than his in-state counterpart. Mandatory jail sentences were avoided and lengthy/costly alcohol education programs were not ordered because of the difficulty in administration and verification. License suspensions were routinely limited to driving in the state of offense/conviction and follow up requirements such as filing proof of insurance were not directed towards out of state licensees. As discussed below, all that has changed.

The Problem – Nowhere to Run/Nowhere to Hide

Today, under the Interstate Driver’s License Compact  and the National Drivers Registry , little if anything slips through the cracks. Drivers used to be able to hop on a plane or drive down an interstate highway and obtain a new license quickly and quietly. Now, under the Problem Driver Pointer System  (PDPS) administered through the National Drivers Registry administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) all new applications for license or the renewal of license are subject to inquiry to the Registry.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have established electronic access to the National Driver Registry and the Problem Driver Pointer System.   In addition, many states voluntarily report administrative suspensions to the home state of an out-of-state driver arrested for DUI. Moreover, the application for driver’s licenses in every state now contains questions regarding license suspensions in other states and pending cases. These applications are under penalty of perjury in most cases.

Out-Of-State Residents Must Consider The License Suspension Impact In Their Home State 

The out-of-state consequences from a DUI conviction in California should be considered for any non-resident client (or one intending to move to another state). Similarly, a client contemplating a plea involving an alcohol-related driving charge in a foreign state should understand the implications of such a conviction in California.

There are no uniform laws or regulations among the states on how to administer license suspensions, nor are there any uniform programs concerning alcohol education (programs are generally tied to the mitigation of license suspension statutes). Most states also impose post-suspension conditions on the reinstatement of a suspended license. This lack of uniformity leads to excessive punishment and the denial of equal protection and due process of law. It also imposes a burden on interstate commerce and an interference with the right to travel.


National Driver’s Registry

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators have aggressively promoted the National Registry and interstate agreements to guarantee punishment for out-of-state violators in their home state. What they have failed to do is realize the gross disparity in sentencing and administrative suspensions amongst the various states and provide for uniformity of treatment. Under the present system, there are 2,500 different potential combinations of consequences and potential punishments for those who venture beyond the boundaries of their own state and are convicted.

 Orange County law enforcement agencies have targeted it for heavier-than-normal DUI enforcement because of the variety of hotel and tourist activity. Whether you’re visiting, vacationing, or conducting business, drinking and driving is a dangerous activity. The police routinely utilize DUI saturation patrols in order to catch drivers who have been drinking.

If you have received a misdemeanor DUI while visiting Orange County, you’ll only have to return to California for an appearance in court if your case goes to trial. Those kinds of cases can be dealt with remotely; look at our “Client Access” link for more information about resolving your misdemeanor case through telephone, fax, email, or Dropbox.

Driver’s License Compact

Most states operate under the Driver License Compact, and this agreement requires a state to report any major traffic offense (especially DUI) to the driver’s home state. It is then that home state’s responsibility to deal with the convicted driver under its own legal system. Since 2007, it is the further responsibility of each state to utilize the National Driver Registry and Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) when considering license applications or renewals.

In California, those convicted of a DUI are required by the DMV to complete an approved treatment program based on the number of prior convictions (including out-of-state convictions) and your blood alcohol level at the time of the incident. While most geographical considerations make this impossible for out-of-state residents, license suspensions can be avoided if the DMV is convinced to remove the person from the National Driver Registry and the right steps are taken during time in court.

Non-residents of California should be concerned with any action the DMV takes to restrict their driving rights, even beyond the Compact. They mistakenly assume that losing the right to drive in California won’t have any impact on their home state driving rights; however, any state that suspends a driver’s license is required to add that driver’s name to the National Driver Registry. A state’s DMV is then obligated to check the Registry and deny the application of any driver who has a suspension in another state. Fortunately, this can all be avoided if the legal team accounts for it when defending the DUI case.

In addition to the other components of your defense, it is possible to challenge the validity of a DUI conviction in another state that may threaten your license. Proper legal representatives, like the DUI lawyers at the Law Office of Barry T. Simons, can challenge out of state prior convictions by demonstrating that a DUI in one state isn’t necessarily equivalent to a DUI in California.

Even if California doesn’t recognize a prior conviction in a different state, you must still work to avoid having your license suspended in your home state. Without an effective plan, your home state may consider the convictions in the two different states as grounds for suspension. We encourage you to contact the Law Office of Barry T. Simons to develop a defense strategy that takes into account this and every other relevant DUI issue.


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By Barry T. Simons: “It is my honor and privilege to fight for my clients; challenge unjust laws; protect our Constitution and to be a thorn on the side of injustice”.

By Barry T. Simons: “It is my honor and privilege to fight for my clients; challenge unjust laws; protect our Constitution and to be a thorn on the side of injustice”.