Do DUI Convictions Carry Over From One State To Another?

It's a fact that almost all states stack DUIs and will sentence defendants based on the number of convictions they have had in that state within a specific period of time. For instance, if you get 3 DUIs within 10 years in Florida, you could have your license suspended for up to 10 years and be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail. However, what many defendants may not realize is that some states count DUI convictions in other states in their calculations. Here's how DUIs can carry over from one state to another.

Administrative Actions

The administrative actions the Department of Motor Vehicles take against your driver's license will depend on the circumstances of how you obtained the DUI. If you receive a DUI in your current state of residence that leads to the DMV suspending or revoking your license, you will not be able to get a license in any other state until the suspension or revocation period ends.

This is because the DMV will typically add your name, social security number, and other identifying information into the National Driver Register database. This database lists people whose licenses are currently revoked or suspended for traffic violations. When issuing licenses, the state checks this database first. If your name is on it, you can't legally get a license.

If you are visiting another state (State B) and receive a DUI in that state, the police will notify the DMV in that state as well as the state where you received your driver's license (State A), and each one will take action independent of the other. If you're convicted of a DUI in State B, the DMV may suspend your driving privileges in that area. You may be able to drive in the other 49 states, but not that one until the suspension ends.

You will face administrative consequences in your home state (State A) only if your state participates in the Interstate Compact program. This is a program where member states share information about a person's traffic offenses and agree to treat the offenses as if they happened in the person's home state. So if you live in Oregon and got a DUI in Connecticut, Oregon will take action against you as if you had gotten the DUI in the state. However, if you live in Michigan, an out-of-state DUI won't affect your license because it's not a member of the compact as of Oct 2015.

Criminal Actions

The criminal court systems in each state don't share information the same way the DMV does. If you're convicted of a DUI in one state, that information will go on your criminal record.  However, it will be up to the prosecutor in your current or future DUI cases to uncover your DUI record from the other states you may have lived in.

The only time states communicate information about DUI convictions is if you get one while visiting another state. For example, if you live in Georgia and get a DUI while visiting Nevada, the Nevada court system will forward information about your conviction to the Secretary of State in Georgia.

In either case, some states will factor in convictions from other states into your sentencing and others won't. For example, California will factor in DUIs from other states only if the criteria for a DUI in those states are the same as the criteria in California. Otherwise, the state won't count the DUI against California drivers. In states that do factor in out-of-state DUIs, you will typically face greater consequences for being convicted even if it's your first DUI in the arresting state.

Cases where out-of-state DUIs are involved can be challenging to litigate. Collaborating with a criminal defense attorney will be essential to minimizing the effect those other DUIs have on your case. For more information about this issue contact an experienced attorney from a firm like Begley Carlin & Mandio LLP