Most California DUIs involve drivers who reside in California, but not all. If you are from another state, or move to another state, and you have a California DUI, you face the same penalties—and those penalties can follow you across state lines. It’s important to understand your rights and how you can handle your DUI case from the state where you live.
In this guide we will discuss:
- Fighting your case without flying back to California
- License suspension for out-of-state licenses
- Jail time and DUI penalties for out-of-state residents
- Refusing to return to California
- Getting your California DUI expunged
Do I have to come back to California to fight my DUI case?
No. Generally, if you get a local California DUI lawyer to handle your case for you, they can appear in court in your place. This will allow you to competently fight your case without having to make repeated trips back to the state.
There are exceptions, however. These include:
- If the court needs you to testify in your own DUI case, you will likely be required to appear in person
- If you do not have a lawyer, you will need to appear in person as no one else can represent you
- If you are convicted you may have to return to California to serve jail or other penalties (see below)
No matter what, do not simply fail to appear for your court date. Unless you have a lawyer and they have told you that you don’t have to come, failing to appear will result in additional penalties. Typically the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest, which could affect you in your home state as well as California. You may face additional penalties as well.
How does DUI license suspension work if I have an out-of-state drivers license?
Police cannot confiscate your license during arrest if it is not a California license. However, they will notify that your driving privileges in California will be suspended in 30 days, just as they would be if you had an in-state license. Just like an in-state driver, you must request a hearing from the California DMV to stop this process, and you have only 10 days to do so.
- Your home state will be notified of your DUI charge
- Your state’s DMV may choose to suspend your license just like California would
This applies to the “administrative” suspension handled by the DMV, effective 30 days after your arrest. If you are convicted of DUI, this also triggers a license suspension, and your home state will also be notified.
It’s important to ask a California DUI lawyer to handle your DMV hearing before the 10-day deadline, so that you do not risk having your license suspended in your home state.
Do I have to serve jail time and other DUI penalties in California?
It depends on the penalty:
- If you are given jail time, you will typically have to serve it in the city or county where you were arrested. This means you have to return to California. However, you may be able to get jail time waived if you have a good lawyer.
- California requires DUI school for all DUI convictions. But you may be able to get the judge’s permission to take equivalent classes in your home state, or to take the classes online.
- Community service and other local penalties may be adjusted based on your out-of-state residency, at the discretion of the judge. Your lawyer can help.
These penalties only apply if you are actually convicted. The first goal of DUI defense lawyers is to help you avoid conviction or reduce your charge to a less serious crime. If you are never convicted of DUI to start with, you don’t have to worry about serving the penalties.
What happens if I just refuse to return to California?
This is a very bad idea. The consequences are always bad, and they depend on your specific case:
- If you are charged with felony DUI, you can actually be extradited and taken back to California
- In a lesser DUI offense, the judge will issue a warrant and you could be arrested any time you are pulled over in your home state
- Your driver’s license suspension will go into effect in California, and your home state’s DMV will be informed, potentially affecting your driving privileges anywhere you go
How can I get my California DUI expunged?
Many drivers who were convicted of DUI choose to get their DUI “expunged,” or taken off their record. An expunction is not possible in every DUI case, but most DUI drivers are eligible sooner or later. In California, to be eligible for an expunction you must:
- Complete all the penalties and requirements ordered by the court
- Wait until your full 3-5 year probation period is over
- Not be currently facing any other other criminal charges, or serving other criminal penalties
In other words, you have to be free and clear of the legal system.
If those conditions are met, you can ask a California DUI lawyer to request your expunction. If your lawyer handles it you will not need to return to the state for this process. If you DUI is expunged, it becomes much less visible. For example:
- Law enforcement and the courts can still see it on your record, but
- It disappears from most other background checks, and
- Employers are not allowed to hold it against you for hiring or firing, even if they discover it.
This is a powerful way to put your California DUI behind you.
You Can Win Your California DUI Case
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.