Everyone has experienced or at least heard of this story; you live in state A but you are on vacation in state B. In a restaurant, you decide to kick back and have a couple of beers. As the night grows darker, you jump into our car and drive to your hotel. Unfamiliar with the road; because it is a new state, you drive slower. On your way to your hotel, you are stopped by Police Officer X who; after smelling your breath, asks you to take an alcohol toxicity test; breathalyzer or roadside gymnastics (Field Sobriety Tests). Before you can process the moment, you are arrested, charged with DUI, and your license suspended. You make bail and at the end of your vacation, you fly home. So, what happens to you and your license, and what should you do about the situation? Remember this story; it is important to this article.
Out-of-State DUI; What Happens When You Are Charged with A DUI in Another State?
DUI; short for Driving Under the Influence, is illegal in all the 50 states in the US. The legal alcohol intoxication limit, recognized by all the 50 states, is .08%. From state to state, DUI takes many names; OVI, DWI, or OUI but it is the same offence. DUI punishments vary from state to state. The Interstate Driver License Compact (DLC) is a legal provision that allows the sharing of information concerning a suspended or revoked driver's licenses and traffic violations between States. The DLC dictates that as long as two states share the same law, the offender can get punished out of state for the offence. All states in the USA participate in the Interstate Driver License Compact (DLC) with the exception of Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. Driving under the influence is illegal in all the 50 states; a DUI license suspension in Illinois is a DUI license suspension in New York. You cannot legally drive in another state when your driver's license was revoked or suspended in your home state. Driving under the influence is an offence with both civil and criminal punishments. The suspension of your driver's license in your home state constitutes the civil punishment of this offence. The criminal component of the case lies on the jurisdiction in which the offence occurred. Punishment varies from state to state.
What Happens When You Get Arrested For a DUI
With the exceptions of Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Michigan, and Georgia, a DUI arrest triggers two series of events:
- Event 1: This is the civil component of the case. In reference to the story in the introduction paragraph, an arrest kickstarts the administrative license suspension process. The arresting officer, Police Officer X, files a report with State B's Department of Motor Vehicles to initiate the administrative suspension of your driver's license; and if your home state (State A) shares compliance with the DLC with State B, the information of suspension is shared and the suspension takes effect in your home state (State A).
- Event 2: The criminal component of the case. The punishment of DUIs varies from state to state. You will be prosecuted according to state B laws. Penalties, fines, community service and possible probation are possible punishments for DUI offenders.
DUIs are serious offences and the way you handle your case can seriously affect your future.
Suspension of Your Driver's License
After an arrest on drunk driving charges, protocol dictates the administrative suspension of the offender's license. The suspension of the driver's license is a civil matter and it is the duty of the local Department of Motor Vehicles to initiate the process. The suspension takes effect before you appear in court. Every state has its own process of suspending a driver's license. There is usually a strict window that allows the offender to appeal the suspension of his/her driver's license.
There are two circumstances that can trigger the suspension of a driver's license;
- Your BAC exceeds the legal limit
BAC is the acronym for Blood Alcohol Content. It is used as a measurement for alcohol concentration; for health and legal purposes. BAC is the concentration of alcohol in blood, and it is expressed as a percentage of ethanol in blood. In the United States of America, all states define a DUI as driving with a BAC equaling or exceeding .08%. To check an individual's Blood Alcohol Concentration, the law empowers the police to carry out the following tests;
- The Field Sobriety Test (FST)- The FST tests the driver's coordination, balance and cognitive capabilities. The suspect is asked to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line (back and forth a number of steps).
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus- In this test, the officer, tests the suspect's jerky eye movements. Before the suspect's eyes, the officer flashes a pen or flashlight in slow horizontal movements.
- Scientific Tests- If the officer suspects alcohol intoxication, he/she has the power to arrest the suspect and administer scientific tests for alcohol intoxication. These tests are more specific and accurate. According to the Implied Consent Laws, all suspects must submit either blood, breath or urine samples for tests. With poor storage and handling of the samples, scientific tests can be inaccurate. At the Law Offices of Ross Sobel, we can contest these scientific tests.
- You Decline or Refuse to Take a Blood Alcohol Content Test
Back to our story on the introductory paragraph, Police Officer X smells the liquor in your breath and ask you to take a test that will determine your Blood Alcohol Concentration. For one reason or the other, you decline to take these tests. What happens next? The implied Consent Laws dictates that all suspects of drunk driving are obligated to submit body fluid samples. Refusal to comply has serious consequences. Even if you were sober, or your BAC did not exceed .08%, prosecutors may base your charges on your sobriety field tests, witness accounts, the arresting officer's observations and evidence found on the scene. Refusal to take BAC tests also triggers the suspension of your driver's license.
For How Long Does the Validity of a Suspension Last on the Driver's License?
The suspension of the offender's driver’s license is standard civil punishment for drunk driving. It is the first course of action after an arrest. The suspension process begins when the arresting officer; Police Officer X (from our story) files a report with state B's Department of Motor Vehicles. There is a limited window to appeal the suspension, this window varies from state to state. After your arrest, you are can request for a hearing. By this time, only your right to drive in state B is suspended. If you fail to request for a hearing or you lose the case, the suspension on your driver's license is final. Once the suspension is final, state B reports your suspension to your home state. The suspension takes effect immediately, in both states. Depending on the laws of your home state, your right to drive in any state could be suspended. The suspension varies from state to state and with the severity of the case. Suspension may be valid, for up to 12months.
These laws vary from state to state; in Maine, an administrative suspension from a different state would not affect your right to drive in Maine. In Massachusetts, your suspension is only valid until your suspension in state B is over. Depending on state laws, you may be required to attend an alcohol school in either state A or state B. You are also required to pay a reinstatement fee to both states.
Contacting a Prestigious Out of State DUI Attorney Near Me
The criminal trial is intimidating and tiresome. Once you make bail, important deadlines and court dates have to be honored. If you miss a court appearance, a warrant of arrest is issued against you. You should have an attorney before your court date.
You need an attorney who specializes in DUIs; one who has decades of experience in the field. Rated as a "Super Lawyer", a general member of the National College for DUI Defense, and ranked among the top 10 best attorneys in client satisfaction for both 2017 and 2018; Ross H. Sobel has proven himself as one of the best DUI attorneys in the country. Over thirty years in experience, Ross Howell specializes in complex DUIs. Getting arrested is humiliating, life-changing and traumatizing, with the right attorney in your corner, you stand a realistic chance of clearing your name and regaining your life. At the Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel, we care about your well being. We will give you the best defense and surround you with the right team. We are humble servants, we do not judge you, we do not scold you, we defend you. Call our Los Angeles DUI Lawyer at 310-788-8995 for a Consultation.