I have an out of state license but got a DUI in California. Now what?

California is extremely harsh on DUI offenders and the penalties for a first time DUI increase virtually every year. Some of the harshest punishments received by DUI offenders come from the notorious California DMV. The Department of Motor Vehicles suspends licensees arrested for DUI in nearly every case where the driver has a .08% BAC (alcohol level) or greater.

If you have a California driver’s license that is valid at the time of arrest, you are eligible to receive a restricted license in most cases. If the DMV finds that you “refused” to submit to a blood or breath test then you are generally not eligible for a restricted license and will receive a one year license suspension. If you’ve submitted yourself to a blood or breath test and the result is .08%+, you are eligible to drive on a restricted license 31 days after the DMV admin-per-se suspension begins. The situation becomes vastly more complicated if you do not have a California driver’s license at the time of arrest.
If you have an out of state license but live in California and receive a DUI in California, you cannot get a restricted license. The DMV finds that you are ineligible and forces you to suffer the full length of the suspension (typically four months for a first DUI) without any ability to drive. The DMV does not care if you have an extreme hardship or will lose your job if you cannot drive.

After California suspends one’s privilege to drive, some people get creative and try to find other ways to drive such as moving to another state or trying to get a license outside of California. Again, California finds a way to punish out of state drivers even more harshly than California licensees. California enters the names of those arrested for DUI into a national database that is shared with 45 of 50 states. This means that when drivers attempt to get a license in Oregon, Arizona, or any of the other 45 states, they will find that the CA DMV has instituted a “hold” on their license and the driver’s home state will not let them drive even outside of California. The driver must clear the hold in California before their home state will lift the hold and allow them to drive again.

The DMV punishment on a DUI is many times much more challenging than the criminal case itself. It is critical that is addressed immediately by a skilled attorney and DMV specialist so your right to drive both in California and outside the state is protected. Call us to go over your options when you’ve been arrested for a DUI and have tough licensing issues around the nation.


About the Author

Hart Levin

Hart Levin

Hart graduated from UC Berkeley at the top of his class, where he received his Bachelor of Arts with Honors. He attended Loyola Law School where he also graduated with Honors. Hart Levin began his career working as an associate at a prominent civil law firm in Westwood, CA, McNicholas & McNicholas LLP.
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