Interstate Licensing Consequences

Interstate Licensing Consequences

Interstate Licensing Consequences Of DUI Convictions 

Prior to the Information Revolution brought on by the computer and the internet, a DUI conviction in one state rarely had interstate consequences. More often than not, the out-of-state client was treated better than his in-state counterpart. Mandatory jail sentences were avoided and lengthy/costly alcohol education programs were not ordered because of the difficulty in administration and verification. License suspensions were routinely limited to driving in the state of offense/conviction and follow up requirements such as filing proof of insurance were not directed towards out of state licensees. As discussed below, all that has changed.

The Problem - Nowhere to Run/Nowhere to Hide

Today, under the Interstate Driver’s License Compact  and the National Drivers Registry , little if anything slips through the cracks. Drivers used to be able to hop on a plane or drive down an interstate highway and obtain a new license quickly and quietly. Now, under the Problem Driver Pointer System  (PDPS) administered through the National Drivers Registry administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) all new applications for license or the renewal of license are subject to inquiry to the Registry.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have established electronic access to the National Driver Registry and the Problem Driver Pointer System.

In addition, many states voluntarily report administrative suspensions to the home state of an out-of-state driver arrested for DUI. Moreover, the application for driver’s licenses in every state now contains questions regarding license suspensions in other states and pending cases. These applications are under penalty of perjury in most cases.

The out-of-state consequences from a DUI conviction in California should be considered for any non-resident client (or one intending to move to another state). Similarly, a client contemplating a plea involving an alcohol-related driving charge in a foreign state should understand the implications of such a conviction in California.

There are no uniform laws or regulations among the states on how to administer license suspensions, nor are there any uniform programs concerning alcohol education (programs are generally tied to the mitigation of license suspension statutes). Most states also impose post-suspension conditions on the reinstatement of a suspended license. This lack of uniformity leads to excessive punishment and the denial of equal protection and due process of law. It also imposes a burden on interstate commerce and an interference with the right to travel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators have aggressively promoted the National Registry and interstate agreements to guarantee punishment for out-of-state violators in their home state. What they have failed to do is realize the gross disparity in sentencing and administrative suspensions amongst the various states and provide for uniformity of treatment. Under the present system, there are 2,500 different potential combinations of consequences and potential punishments for those who venture beyond the boundaries of their own state and are convicted.
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