If you're faced with an out of state DUI charge, you may wonder what happens. Perhaps you were on vacation and had a couple of drinks with dinner. Because you didn't know the area well, you were driving slowly. Because of this, a cop decides to pull you over. Then he smells alcohol on your breath and he arrests you for driving under the influence. Now, you're faced with having to deal with a DUI charge out of state. Most people know the laws in their home state and know what to expect if arrested for a DUI/DWI. But, when this happens out of state, the laws are certainly different than in your home state and you may wonder how to handle the process.
What Happens After the Arrest?
The Department of Motor Vehicles in each state has its own process for dealing with a DUI/DWI charge. Your license can get suspended for two possible reasons. Your license might be suspended if your blood-alcohol level (BAC) was over the legal limit or if you refused to take a breathalyzer test.
At this point, the arresting officer will send a report to the state DMV office. With this action, your license is temporarily suspended until the case goes to court. In most cases, you have a limited time to appeal the suspension and that length of time varies from state to state. Up until this point, the suspension only involves the state where you were arrested. However, if you fail to request a hearing or fail to show up to a requested hearing, the suspension becomes final and will also apply to your home state. In order to get your license reinstated, you will likely be required to participate in a DUI Safety Program and may have to pay a reinstatement fee.
When the cop stopped you he would've given you a summons with a court date so you have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. You will appear in the out of state court. From the plea date, there are several important deadlines you must meet. If you fail to meet such deadlines, it may be very difficult for you to fight the charges and win your case.
If you fail to appear for your court date, a warrant will be issued and your license will be suspended. The best plan of action to fight DUI/DWI charges is to obtain an attorney before your first court date. An attorney knows the laws and can guide you through the court process and increase your chances of getting the charges against you dropped.
Possible Outcomes After The Incident
If you are convicted of a DUI/DWI, you could have your license suspended. You may also have to pay court costs and fines. A DUI/DWI conviction is almost always reported to the home state. Your home state will suspend your license for as long as the state where the conviction happened requires or the amount of time your home state requires - whichever is longer. If you fail to meet the requirements of the court, such as paying fines and attending an alcohol program, your suspension will remain in effect indefinitely. Suspensions in every state are reported to the National Driver Registry. All states check this registry when issuing or renewing a license. If they notice a conviction in another state, they will refuse to issue a license. Your car insurance will likely be much higher with a DUI charge.
You shouldn't try to fight the charge on your own. These cases are very difficult to win because of their complex process and require extensive knowledge of DUI law. If you are faced with an out of state DUI/DWI charge, the first thing you should do is hire a knowledgeable attorney in DUI law. You will need an attorney in the state where the offense took place as he or she will know the laws of that state and can help you through a very difficult process.
Evan M. Levow, Esq. is an award-winning New Jersey DWI defense attorney at Levow DWI Law who has been successfully representing drivers arrested on DWI charges in New Jersey for decades. In addition to his dedication to representing his clients, Evan is also committed to giving back by helping educate drivers throughout the country about DUI laws and safe driving practices.