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Los Angeles DUI and the Interstate Driver License Compact

Los Angeles DUI and the Interstate Driver License Compact

Los Angeles DUI and the Interstate Driver License Compact

Getting arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles can be a scary experience with severe consequences. For those with an out-of-state driver’s license, a California DUI conviction affects your driving privileges back home too. This interstate impact results from the Driver License Compact, an agreement between most states to enforce traffic violations across borders.

Under this compact, the state where you are licensed will impose the same penalties against your driving record as if the offense occurred closer to home. So an LA DUI suspension or revocation applies in your home state too. Understanding these interstate effects is important for anyone arrested for impaired driving while visiting or temporarily living in California.

The Driver License Compact Explained

The Driver License Compact is an agreement between 47 participating states and the District of Columbia to exchange information and enforce traffic violations across state lines[1]. When you are convicted of certain offenses in a member state, that violation is reported to your home licensing state which then imposes an equivalent penalty.

This prevents drivers from avoiding consequences by getting cited out of their home jurisdiction. Under the compact, major violations like a DUI trigger the same administrative license suspension and revocation whether you are cited near your home or thousands of miles away.

All states have their own impaired driving laws, but members of the compact agree to enforce suspensions and revocations mandated by other member states for equivalent DUI offenses[2].

How the Compact Impacts California DUIs

California is a member of the Driver License Compact, so out-of-state residents arrested for DUI here face consequences both in California and their home state. When licensed drivers are convicted of an impaired driving offense in California, the DMV reports it to the licensing state which then imposes an equivalent suspension or revocation period[3].

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This means an out-of-state driver arrested for DUI in Los Angeles faces both California and home state penalties. For example, a first-offense DUI conviction in California results in a 6-month license suspension. So their home state will also suspend their license for 6 months, even if the penalties there are different for a first DUI.

Consequences of Refusing Chemical Testing

One key impact involves increased penalties for refusing chemical BAC testing after a DUI stop. In California, refusing a breath or blood test results in a 1-year license suspension, on top of any suspension mandated for a DUI conviction[4].

So an out-of-state driver who refuses testing after being arrested for DUI in LA would face a 1-year refusal suspension in their home state too. That’s on top of any suspension period for the DUI conviction itself.

Administrative Per Se Suspensions

California also imposes administrative per se license suspensions when a driver’s BAC is over the legal limit of 0.08%[5]. This immediate DMV action takes place after a DUI arrest, before court proceedings conclude.

Under the compact, the home licensing state also applies an administrative per se suspension, even if BAC limits differ. So an out-of-state driver who failed a chemical test after a California DUI arrest would face per se suspensions both here and at home.

Occupational License Restrictions

Those suspended for DUI can apply for restricted occupational licenses to drive for work in California. However, the home state may not offer similar privileges or honor California occupational licenses[6].

Some states explicitly prohibit issuing occupational or hardship licenses for out-of-state DUI offenses. So don’t assume you can obtain an occupational license without confirming with both California and your home state.

Under 21 License Actions

The compact also applies to under 21 license suspensions for zero tolerance DUI violations. In California, drivers under 21 face a 1-year license suspension if caught driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.

So an underage visitor arrested for zero tolerance DUI in LA would have their license suspended in California plus face a 1-year suspension back home. This ensures they can’t escape consequences simply by crossing state lines.

Non-Compact State Impacts

A few states like Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are not members of the Driver License Compact. However, most still have laws to penalize drivers licensed in their state who commit DUI offenses elsewhere. So you may still face some consequences in a non-compact state, just not necessarily identical to the original violating state.

Avoiding Out-of-State DUI Suspensions

To avoid license suspensions in multiple states, don’t drink and drive anywhere. But if you are arrested:

  • Hire a DUI attorney immediately to defend your case
  • Determine your home state’s license compact status
  • Fight any illegal or improper test results
  • Don’t refuse chemical BAC testing unnecessarily
  • Request DMV hearings to challenge any suspensions
  • Follow procedures to reinstate your license properly

An experienced lawyer guides you through defending both the California DUI charge and any home state license actions triggered by the compact.

How to Regain Driving Privileges After an Out-of-State DUI

Once suspended, you must navigate license reinstatement procedures in both California and your home state. Requirements typically include:

  • Serving all suspension periods
  • Paying reinstatement fees
  • Providing SR-22 insurance
  • Completing DUI programs
  • Passing testing and evaluations
  • Complying with court orders
  • Satisfying any additional state-specific criteria

An experienced DUI attorney helps ensure you properly complete all steps so your license is fully reinstated. The process can vary between California and your home state, so legal guidance is invaluable.

Why the Compact Matters

In summary, the Driver License Compact between most states has three main impacts on out-of-state DUIs in California:

  1. Your home state will impose equivalent suspensions and revocations as California for a DUI conviction.
  2. You face double suspensions if you refuse chemical BAC testing after an arrest.
  3. Administrative per se suspensions apply in both states when you fail a chemical test.

Don’t assume you can avoid consequences of an LA DUI simply by having an out-of-state license. The compact prevents drivers from falling through jurisdictional cracks. Consult an attorney to defend against compact-triggered actions.


[1] https://www.aamva.org/DL-Compact/
[2] https://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/dui-and-dwi/impact-of-a-dui-conviction/interstate-compact-for-adult-offender-supervision.htm
[3] https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-education-and-safety/educational-materials/fast-facts/the-driver-license-compact-ffdl-32/
[4] https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/defense/vehicle-code/13353/
[5] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=13353.2.
[6] https://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/dui-and-dwi/dui-dwi-drivers-license-penalties/restricted-and-hardship-licenses.htm

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