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DUI/OVI for Out-of-State Drivers

DUI/OVI for Out-of-State Drivers

What Happens When an Out-of-State Driver Receives an Ohio DUI/OVI Charge?

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding Ohio DUI / OVI law is that out-of-state drivers are somehow immune from the effects and penalties of a DUI when there is an Ohio DUI / OVI conviction.  This is simply incorrect.  Ohio DUI / OVI charges can and will affect your out-of-state driver’s license.  This is because Ohio is part of a special compact of states that share driving violation information with each other.

What is the “Driver’s License Compact?”

Ohio (along with forty-five other states) is a member of the “Driver’s License Compact” (DLC) — which, in essence, means that receiving a DUI / OVI in Ohio translates to there being a good chance that your home state will suspend your driver’s license.  The five non-member states are Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.  All other states (and the District of Columbia) are members of the Compact.

Here’s how the Compact works:  After receiving transmission of the DUI / OVI from the convicting state, your home state is charged with taking action under its own set of DUI/OVI laws.  According to the National Center for Interstate Commerce, the Compact is used by States to “exchange information concerning license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents and forward them to the state where they are licensed known as the home state.”  Moreover, the Compact’s theme is “One Driver, One License, One Record.”  In applying the Compact, member states should “treat the offense as if it had been committed at home, applying home state laws to the out-of-state offense.  The action taken would include, but not be limited to, points assessed on a minor offense such as speeding and suspension of license or a major violation such as DWI / DUI.”

With respect to DUI / OVI conviction, each DLC state is required to report the conviction of an out-of-state individual to the licensing authority of that individual’s home state within 15 days after receiving report of the conviction.  Under the DLC, this information must describe the violation clearly, identify the issuing court, include all relevant dates, and indicate whether the individual has pled guilty.  This report is also required to indicate whether the violation was committed in a commercial vehicle.

The history of the Compact:  The “Beamer Resolution,” passed by Congress in 1958, paved the way for what is now known as the DLC.  The Beamer Resolution sought to advance congressional approval for interstate compacts relating to traffic safety.  Drafting of the DLC began in the early 1960s.  In 1961, Nevada became the first state to expressly adopt the Compact.  Later, in 1962, Mississippi joined the DLC.  By the end of the 1960s, the DLC was composed of 27 member states, with additional states joining in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.  Today, there are 45 member states.

Is the DLC Different from the DLA?

Yes.  While the Driver’s License Compact and the Driver’s License Agreement (DLA) are related, the two concepts are somewhat distinct.  The DLA was designed to improve upon the DLC by creating an even more efficient and uniform way for states to license individuals and share driver information.  Unlike the DLC, the DLA does not require states to pass a statute.  Rather, DLA member states need only submit a “Notice of Joinder.”  Though the DLA’s list of offenses is slightly more extensive than the DLC, the bulk of the language is largely the same.  Despite optimism about the DLA replacing the DLC within a decade after the first state joined the DLA, there have been only three other states join the Agreement — Connecticut, Arkansas, and Massachusetts.

Important DLC Provisions Include:

  • Statutory recognition: Your home state can’t punish you for an out-of-state DUI / OVI unless there is already an equivalent statutory offense on the books in your home states.  If your home state does not have an equivalent statute, no further action can be taken against you.  Experienced Ohio DUI / OVI attorneys understand how important this requirement can be when defending out-of-state drivers.
  • Uniformity: Generally speaking, your home state (if they are a member of the DLC), will treat any out-of-state DUI / OVI as if it had been physically committed in your home state.  Thus, your home state’s law will generally apply to your out-of-state DUI / OVI offense.  Through the DLC, all information relating to out-of-state traffic violations will also be communicated back to your home state.
  • One driver record: Under the DLC, your home state must maintain a complete record to determine your driving eligibility in your home state, as well as your driving privileges in other states.  Again, this goes back to the DLC’s aim for uniformity mentioned above.
  • One driver license: The DLC mandates that you must surrender any out-of-state driver’s license when you apply for a new license. Thus, in every DLC state, you will be required by law to turn in any existing out-of-state driver’s license when applying for a new license outside of your home state.

Effect on DUIs Generally

Under the DLC, if you commit a DUI / OVI in a member state, then your home state’s laws will apply to your out-of-state offense.  For example, if you were convicted in Ohio and had your license suspended in Ohio, then Ohio would inform your home state about your DUI / OVI conviction and license suspension.  As the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle explains, your home state will likely also suspend your license because of your DUI / OVI and may impose other penalties as well, pursuant to your home state’s laws.

Ohio gives full faith and credit to out of state convictions. They will use the same length of the suspension and same dates. You have to get a certified abstract of the conviction and get it on Ohio’s computer.

Our Firm Can Help You With Your Out Of State DUI

Many out-of-state drivers assume that their license will remain valid in their home state even if they lose their right to drive in Ohio.  This is incorrect.  If you are convicted of an Ohio DUI / OVI, you need an attorney that understands the complexities of the DLC.  Depending on where you live, you may be facing significant fines, license suspension, or even jail time.  Choosing the right lawyer is the most important decision you will make.