California is a destination for many people, a destination which offers many locations and opportunities to imbibe some alcoholic refreshments. When an out-of-state driver does partake in enjoying some alcoholic drinks, they sometimes make the mistake of getting behind the wheel and are arrested for a California DUI. When that happens, often is the question: How will their out-of-state residency affect the outcome of the DUI case?
Although the person may have an out-of-state driver’s license, they will still be subject to the DMV’s administrative action to determine whether their driving privileges in California should be suspended. This is the same “admin per se” hearing that California drivers are subject to following a DUI arrest and will be conducted in much the same manner. A loss of the hearing or a conviction will trigger a suspension of that person’s California driving privileges. Whether the driver’s home state recognizes a suspension following a loss of the California admin per se hearing or a DUI conviction will depend on the state’s reciprocity with California under the Interstate Driver’s License Compact.
Fortunately for most misdemeanor DUI charges, the defendant does not need to be present at the pretrial hearings of a DUI case. If a person decides to take a plea deal, they may need to be present for the plea. Some judges, however, will allow the out-of-state driver to enter a plea without needing to be present as long as the person’s attorney reviews the documents with the driver, the driver signs the documents before a notary public, and the attorney provides the documents to the court.
If a person is convicted of a California DUI, many of the conditions of probation typically associated with a California DUI conviction require a person to be present in California. However, a skilled DUI attorney can negotiate a plea deal that does not require an out-of-state driver to come back to California to fulfill the conditions of probation.
The California Vehicle Code requires that a person convicted of a California DUI complete an approved DUI program, the length of which depends on the individual facts of the case; three-month program (AB 541), six-month program (AB762), nine-month program (AB 1353), and an 18-month program for a second-time DUI or more (Sb 38). These program are only approved and offered in California. For out-of-state drivers, the judge must allow either an out-of-state or online program equivalent to whatever program the driver would have to take if they were in California.
While the out-of-state driver will likely be allowed to participate in an out-of-state or online program, the California DMV will not recognize a non-approved program when reinstating a person’s driving privileges. The DMV requires the completion of an approved DUI class before it will reinstate a person’s driving privileges. However, following the suspension, the out-of-state driver can petition the California DMV for a “set-aside” of the suspension notwithstanding their inability to complete an approved DUI program.
Other conditions typically required following a California DUI conviction may or may not be offered in other states. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panels are offered in many states, however may be limited in where in the state they are offered.
Many states offer their version of California’s “Hospital and Morgue Program,” which is sometimes required following a California DUI conviction, although it may differ in form and length.
If it is impractical to require an out-of-state driver to complete either MADD’s Victim Impact Panel or the Hospital and Morgue Program, the prosecutor and judge may be willing to substitute a number of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings for the programs since AA meetings are offered in most municipalities across the United States.
Being an out-of-state driver does complicate the process, but it doesn’t mean that the driver’s rights are forfeited. It takes a skilled California DUI attorney to ensure that out-of-state drivers are treated fairly by the California court system.