Impact of a DC DUI on Out of State Drivers

When a person has been arrested in Washington, DC on suspicion of driving under the influence, aside from facing the criminal charge of DUI, he or she also faces possible penalties to his or her driving privileges from the DC DMV.

Unlike in many states where the judge can also suspend a person’s driver’s license, Washington, DC separates the criminal charge from the person’s driver’s license privileges. The criminal judge can have control over a person’s incarceration period, probation, and fines, but only the DC DMV can take action against the person’s driving privileges. A person who has a DC driver’s license at the time of a DUI arrest can have his or her driver’s license revoked for a certain period of time, depending on prior DUI history and compliance in submitting to blood alcohol testing.

The DC DMV, in revoking a DC driver’s license, would physically take the license so that the person would not have the ability to drive either in DC or in any other jurisdiction. However, a person with an out of state driver’s license cannot have his or her out-of-state driver’s license taken by the DC DMV. They only hold the power to revoke a non-DC driver’s privileges inside the boundaries of Washington, DC.

For example, if a person with a Virginia driver’s license is arrested for a DUI in DC, the DC DMV would only have the ability to revoke that person’s driving privileges inside DC’s borders. However, they could notify Virginia of that license revocation period, in which case Virginia would be able to take action against the person with the Virginia license based on their own their rules and regulations.

Differing State Laws

DUI laws can differ quite a bit from state to state. There are some states in which driving under the influence is merely considered to be a traffic offense as opposed to a criminal offense. However, some states impose much greater penalties for DUI, including mandatory jail time, even for first-time offenders.

There are also different laws that permit people accused of driving under the influence to be found guilty of lower level offenses. For example, Washington DC has an offense called “operating while impaired,” which is considered to be a lower level offense than a DUI.

In the same way as a DUI, the DC DMV may take action against the person’s license for an offense that exists in DC, but may not exist in other states. As a result, the rules on transferring that license revocation period to another state may permit a person to maintain their driving privileges in their own state, while still having their driving privileges revoked in Washington, DC.

National Driver Register

The National Driver Register is a computerized database that contains information on individuals whose privilege to operate a car has been revoked, suspended, or denied due to traffic offenses. The database is also the manner by which points added to a person’s license in one state could be transferred to the person’s home state so that those points would appear on the person’s driver’s record in the home state as well.

The National Driver Register is the way that every state’s DMV collects information on the driving status or any traffic violations committed by their own drivers and other states so that a person’s driving record can be an accurate reflection of his or her driving history throughout the country.

Application of a DC DUI on Out of State License Holders

When a person with a non-DC license has been charged with a DUI in DC, the DC DMV has the ability to take action against that person’s driving privileges within the District of Columbia only. The DC DMV does not have the ability to revoke the person’s driving privileges in their home state or in any state outside of DC.

However, through the National Driver Register, the person’s home state may be able to find out about an out-of-state DUI and use that information to take action against the person’s license in his or her home state. Action taken by the home state against a person’s driver’s license could then be applicable in all states around the country.

Out of State Criminal Penalties

DC drivers and out of state licensed drivers are treated exactly the same when it comes to their DUI charges.  The evidence against them, policies, penalties, and court treatment will all be exactly the same.

The main difference between a defendant with a DC license and a defendant with an out of state license is the impact that the DUI has on any possible license revocation period the person may face. Under DC rules, the DC DMV cannot take the driver’s license of a person with a non-DC license. A person with a DC driver’s license can physically have his or her driver’s license taken away as a result of a DUI, so the license revocation period would include a probation on driving both in DC itself and anywhere outside of it as well.

A person with a non-DC license, on the other hand, would only have a revocation placed on his or her driving privileges within the DC borders. If the DC DMV does move forward on such a license revocation, that revocation period could transfer out to their home state, at which point the home state could take action against their driver’s license that would apply in the home state as well.