Being accused of driving under the influence (DUI) in California is scary enough for California drivers, but being accused of the offense out of state can be even scarier.

When they travel out of state, California drivers are required to follow the traffic laws of the state that they happen to be visiting. If suspected of driving under the influence in another state, the fact that a driver is from California will not prevent a police officer from making an arrest or a prosecutor from filing criminal DUI charges. Unfortunately, most courts are crowded to the point where it can take months between an arrest and an actual trial, assuming that a plea bargain isn’t reached. For the California driver arrested and charged with driving under the influence in another state, the thought of having to return to the state in the future to deal with pending legal charges can be especially frustrating.

Out of State Counsel is Recommended

Assuming that a DUI arrest does not result from an accident which caused injury or death, the California licensed driver accused of DUI in another state will most likely be able to return to California to await trial. Even though they might think that charges in one state can’t follow them home, they would be wrong. Electing to ignore charges simply because they originated in another state can have serious legal consequences that never make it worth it to ignore out of state charges, especially for DUI.

Instead, suspects of DUIs out of state are encouraged to contact a DUI defense attorney in the jurisdiction where the arrest was made. In many cases, the out of state attorney will be able to represent the suspect in court without the need for the suspect to make a personal appearance. This is perhaps the best option for anyone who can’t easily travel back to the jurisdiction where the DUI charges were filed. Unfortunately, a California DUI attorney can do little for the California driver facing out of state DUI charges, which is why counsel local to the area where charges were filed should be retained.

California and Out of State DUI Convictions

If a California driver is convicted of a DUI in another state, then the out of state DUI conviction may be considered a valid conviction in California for determining whether or not a California DUI suspect is a first, second, third, or fourth time offender. An initial DUI conviction does not have to be made in California in order for a California driver to be charged as a repeat offender if ever charged with DUI in California.

The Interstate Driver License Compact

An agreement known as the Interstate Driver License Compact, which includes 44 member states, including California, allows a person’s driving privileges to be suspended in California if the driver is convicted of certain offenses, if the driver fails to pay certain fines, or if the driver fails to appear in court to address certain charges in states which are members of the Compact.