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Arrest for DUI in California with Out of State Prior


It is not uncommon for visitors from out of state to be arrested for a DUI in California. People drink and drive rental vehicles when they are on vacation or on business here. Representing a client who does not reside in California presents a number of issues including making sure penalties can be performed in the defendant's home state. One issue that may arise is whether the DMV and the prosecuting attorney are aware of any out of state prior DUI convictions.

Out of state prior DUI convictions may be used by the DMV to enhance the length of a suspension in California and by the court to increase penalties. Sometimes the DMV will be aware of the out of state conviction, but the case is filed as a first offense in court. If a disposition is reached in court for a plea to a first offense, this will keep the penalties to a minimum and avoid the jail time that a second offense mandates. However, when the DMV in Sacramento receives notice of the conviction, the mandatory actions unit there will still suspend the licensee as a second offender, meaning a two-year license suspension for the conviction.

If a defendant pleads to a first offense in court and is suspended as a second offender by the DMV, this may cause a problem for a licensee attempting to re-instate their privilege to drive in California. The court penalties for a first offense include a three-month alcohol education class. However, the DMV will require proof of completion of an 18-month class if they are aware of the prior.

In addition, if the licensee moves to California and wants to apply for a restricted license, they will not be able to do so. Normally the DMV will allow an application for a restricted license on a second offense after 90 days of suspension. Conditions of reinstatement include installation of an ignition interlock device in the licensee's vehicle for a year, proof of insurance (SR22) and proof of enrollment in a court ordered 18-month alcohol education program.

If the defendant intends to move to California and apply for a California license, it is often better to voluntarily disclose the out of state prior to the court, so that an 18 month education program can be ordered, even if this disclosure results in other second offense penalties including jail time.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in California and you have out of state DUI convictions, please call us for a free case evaluation.