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What Happens to a New Yorker Who Gets a DUI in Virginia?

Out-of-state DUI charges can be a headache due to travel back and forth between states, especially if it is to a distant state that you do not have ties to. So what happens if you reside in New York and receive a DUI in another state, like Virginia?

There are two dimensions to consider: Virginia Courts and the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Courts

Courts require citizens to appear at specified dates and times for what is known as an Arraignment. At an Arraignment, a Judge will formally read the charges against you, set bail if applicable, and give you an opportunity to retain counsel if you have not already done so. Because a DUI is considered a Misdemeanor, it may be difficult to for an out-of-state resident to attend an Arraignment.

If you are a New York resident facing an out-of-state charge, you should consult with a Virginia attorney immediately to determine whether you will need to appear for an Arraignment. Courts have the power to compel a person’s appearance, even if they are not a resident of the state where they are charged. Courts can compel attendance by issuing a bench warrant.

While a Virginia Police Officer will not show up at your home in New York, an open warrant in Virginia is accessible to police officers in New York. If a New York officer stops you, and finds that you have an open warrant, you could be arrested and extradited to the state where the warrant was initiated to answer for it.

Sentencing Conditions

As a general statement, if you are charged with a DWI, courts and District Attorneys can offer you the ability to plead guilty to a lesser charge. These plea bargains typically carry certain conditions, including community service, attendance at a Victim Impact Panel, fines, and enrollment in an alcohol education course through a DMV (which would most likely have to be approved by the Virginia DMV.)

Virginia’s stop DUI program known as “Virginia is Tough” establishes harsh penalties for even first-time offenders. Under Virginia law, residents have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) upon conviction. The DMV would make a Virginia resident install an IID even if the court did not order an instillation. You could also be responsible for restitution up to $1,000 if an accident was caused as a result of your DUI.

Each of these conditions will have to be met with equivalent programs in New York, and would most likely have to be approved by the Virginia Court and District Attorney’s Office where your case is pending. This is why it is critical to consult with a Virginia attorney to protect you from unforeseen complications.

In addition to considering the court dimension when you receive an out-of-state DUI/DWI, you also have to be mindful of actions that can be taken against your license in New York.

Effects on Your Home State License

Virginia and New York are signatories to an agreement called the Driver License Compact (DLC). The DLC is an information sharing agreement between states to notify one another of traffic offenses and suspensions/revocations.  For a New York resident, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles will be notified of a DUI/DWI charge originating in another member state, according to Article 3 of the DLC:

“The licensing authority of a party state shall report each conviction of a person from another party state occurring within its jurisdiction to the licensing authority of the home state of the licensee. Such report shall clearly identify the person convicted, describe the violation specifying the section of the statute, code or ordinance violated, identify the court in which action was taken, indicate whether a plea of guilty or not guilty was entered or the conviction was a result of the forfeiture of bail, bond or other security and shall include any special findings made in connection therewith.”

In addition, the home state DMV has the authority to assess the same penalties that an in-state driver would face under Article 4(a) of the DLC:

“The licensing authority in the home state, for the purposes of suspension, revocation or limitation of the license to operate a motor vehicle, shall give the same effect to the conduct reported, pursuant to Article III of this compact, as it would if such conduct had occurred in the home state.”

The DMV lists two specific provisions that a New York resident would be subject to if they received an alcohol-related offense out-of-state:

1. For a first-time offense, a license is revoked for at least 90 days. If a driver is less than 21 years of age, a license is revoked for at least one year.

2. For repeat offenses, the same minimum 90-day suspension would apply, but the suspension will increase based upon the nature of prior offenses. If a driver is less than 21 years of age, a license is revoked for at least one year or until age 21.

There is also a database known as the National Driver Register, which lists drivers who have had their license revoked or suspended or have been convicted of serious driving offenses; which can include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The New York DMV will run a search on the NDR as part of the license renewal or application process.

If a search returns a prior history of alcohol or drug related charges, the DMV can decide not to renew or issue a new license. It is important to know that driving offenses, such as DUI/DWI do not simply disappear if you do not reside in the state where you were charged.

Receiving an out-of-state DUI/DWI in Virginia can be tough for New York residents, but there is some relief. For example, a New York resident is not subject to a mandatory probationary period of 1 year for first-time offenses or three years for repeat offenses as Virginia residents are. Repeat offenders are also denied bail while they await trial in Virginia if they have been arrested (not convicted) for DUI three or more times within a five-year period. A Virginia Judge also does not have the ability to seize an out-of-state license according to Virginia Code §46.2-398:

For any revocation or suspension of a privilege to drive in Virginia of a person who does not have a Virginia driver’s license but who does have a valid driver’s license from another jurisdiction, the court shall not order the physical surrender of such license.

What to do if You Receive a DUI/DWI in Virginia

Safe driving, free from alcohol, is always a good practice, but if you find yourself charged with an out-of-state DUI/DWI, you should always consult an attorney who focuses on DUI/DWI law. They can best advise you on how to proceed with your case and protect you against unforeseen circumstances.

It’s also important to retain an attorney who practices locally in the court you were charged in. Even if a New York DWI lawyer is licensed to practice in Virginia, it is better to have representation by an attorney who knows the area and can make appearances on your behalf if the court allows.