You’re visiting some relatives, or you’re out of town on business. You have one or two drinks with your relatives or colleagues, no more than you normally would enjoy with your friends or co-workers back home.
But you’re not familiar with the area, it’s dark – and before you know it, you’ve been arrested in a strange town for DUI. Is a conviction certain? What can you do?
The rules for driving under the influence – DUI – are essentially the same in all fifty states, but in some states, it’s called DWI – for driving while intoxicated, and in Wisconsin, it’s called OWI for operating while intoxicated. Do not let the language confuse you – it’s all the same.
In every state, a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level that measures at or above 0.08 percent is considered impaired and will be arrested and charged with DUI or its equivalent in that state.
If you are arrested for intoxicated driving in another state, you might be tempted to think that you can simply forget all about it, provided that you never go back to that state.
If you think that, you would be wrong. In fact, trying to pretend that an arrest for intoxicated driving in another state did not happen is the worst decision that you can make after an out-of-state drunk driving arrest.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO FIRST AFTER AN OUT-OF-STATE DUI ARREST?
If you are charged with drunk driving in another state, it is imperative for you to contact an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer in that state as quickly as possible.
An out-of-state DUI or DWI arrest is seriously going to interfere with and inconvenience your life, but the right DUI/DWI attorney will help you resolve your legal trouble and will work to bring the matter to its best possible conclusion.
If you are charged with DUI or DWI in another state, it is imperative for you to stay abreast of the progress of the case. Stay in close touch with your attorney in that state.
The internet can link you to county clerks and county court offices which can provide other details you may need about your case and about the court that will hear the case.
Any time that you miss any scheduled appearance in a court anywhere in the United States, a bench warrant will probably be issued at that time for your arrest, and in many states, the charge of failing to appear – or the charge of “bail jumping” – will then be added to the intoxicated driving charge.
HOW CAN YOU FIND THE RIGHT DUI/DWI ATTORNEY IN ANOTHER STATE?
Choosing the right DUI/DWI attorney is imperative. Very few DUI/DWI attorneys are admitted to practice in other states, but if you know a DUI lawyer locally, ask that attorney if he or she will be able to represent you.
If not, your local attorney may be able to recommend a reputable DUI/DWI attorney in the jurisdiction where you were arrested and charged.
You must be advised and represented by a DUI/DWI lawyer who understands and who is familiar with the intoxicated driving laws and procedures in that state.
Intoxicated driving is the most-frequently charged crime in the United States, so DUI/DWI attorneys are not hard to find. They’re virtually everywhere.
If you are able and you have the time, arrange to meet with several DUI/DWI attorneys in the state and jurisdiction where you are being charged with intoxicated driving.
For example, if you were arrested in Westchester County, NY, then you should meet with a Criminal defense attorney in Westchester County. Meeting with several attorneys will enable you to select an attorney that you like and trust and that you’re comfortable with.
CAN AN ORANGE COUNTY DUI LAWYER HELP WITH AN OUT-OF-STATE DUI?
If you live here in Southern California, even though a California DUI lawyer probably cannot help you in another state, he or she will be able to help you with your license suspension issues.
Forty-five of the fifty states are part of the Driver License Compact (DLC), an agreement among those states to exchange information regarding DUIs and DWIs, other traffic violations, and driver’s license suspensions.
If your driver’s license is suspended in one of those forty-five states because of a DUI or DWI arrest or conviction, your driver’s license is then automatically suspended in California as well.
States also enter the names of drivers with DUI/DWI convictions or with revoked or suspended driver’s licenses into the National Driver Register (NDR), which is accessible to law enforcement agencies in all fifty states.
Driver’s license revocations and suspensions make it difficult to earn a living and meet other responsibilities. If you have children, it’s more difficult.
If your driver’s license is revoked or suspended after a DUI or DWI conviction in another state, a skilled DUI lawyer in Orange County can probably help you acquire a restricted “hardship” license that allows driving to work, school, necessary doctor and hospital visits, and DUI classes or other court-imposed obligations.
IN ANOTHER STATE, SHOULD YOU FIGHT A DUI OR DWI CHARGE?
For any out-of-state DUI or DWI offense, you will be required to make an appearance in court and enter a plea. Discuss your options with your attorney in that state. Your attorney will review the evidence and the charge against you and recommend the best course of action.
If the evidence is strong, a plea bargain will probably be your attorney’s recommendation, but if the case against you is weak, your attorney may recommend fighting the charge and going to trial.
A DUI or DWI conviction from another state will be counted in California as a prior conviction if you are charged with DUI in this state at any time in the ten-year period subsequent to the conviction.
As you might imagine, the penalties are increasingly harsher for second and subsequent DUI convictions in California.
Of course, the best way to avoid a DUI conviction is to follow the one basic rule that you’ve already heard many times – Don’t Drink and Drive.
If you are charged with DUI here in Southern California, you must understand that DUI is a serious charge, and a conviction will profoundly impact your life for years to come. You must have the help of an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer if you are charged with DUI here in Southern California. It’s your right.