State lines can provide for some difficult legal situations because each state has its own laws and standards as applied to traffic laws. The type of law that you may be prosecuted under for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge could depend on where you were arrested or your home state.

Which law governs my DUI charge?

Each state has different penalties and details when it comes to your DUI charge. There are a multitude of issues that are involved with determining which law will apply to your case depending on your specific situation. The issues get more complicated when you are driving across state lines or you have a vehicle registered in another state while you are arrested for a DUI in yet a different state. Other examples of issues you should take up with an experienced DUI attorney include whether tougher penalties enforced in State A can be held against you when the crime occurred in State B.

Arrest

An officer has jurisdiction to arrest you and enforce the laws of the state, county, or city that they are in. So if you are driving in State A, a State B officer cannot try to enforce the State A laws. However, exceptions to this rule include when an officer is in hot pursuit of someone suspected of committing a crime within his or her jurisdiction, if an officer has an arrest warrant, if the crime occurs on federal land (such as a national park), or if the states have cross-jurisdictional agreements giving officers of one jurisdiction power to act in another jurisdiction.1

Law

The type of law that will be applied to your case is most likely your home state law in a DUI case. The Driver’s License Compact, an interstate information sharing tool for traffic violations, applies to forty five out of fifty U.S. states.2 Under this compact, if you committed a DUI in a member state then your home state’s vehicle code will apply to this out of state offense.3

Certain states have reciprocity agreements that require your home state to provide certain penalties for DUI charges at your home state’s option.4

What about my license?

If you receive a DUI charge in a state other than the one that issued your license then that jurisdiction cannot take away your license; however, that state can impose jail time.5 Under the Driver’s License Compact, your home state will suspend or revoke your license under its law if the charges warrant such a penalty.

Do DUI charges carry over to other states?

Most likely. States typically do share information about criminal records, especially traffic violations and DUI convictions.6

For example, the Driver’s License Compact is an interstate information sharing mechanism where states can see non-resident traffic violations from other states.7 Arizona is a member state of such compact since 1963. A.R.S. § 28-1851. Therefore, any DUI offense will affect your driving record in other states as it does in your home state.8

[1] Jurisdiction: Where Can the Police Make Arrests?, criminal.lawyers.com, http://criminal.lawyers.com/criminal-law-basics/jurisdiction-where-can-the-police-make-arrests.html?page=2 (last visited Nov. 18, 2014).

2 Aditi Mukherji, How Does the Driver License Compact Affect DUIs?, blogs.findlaw.com (Aug. 1, 2013 8:43 AM), http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2013/08/how-does-the-driver-license-compact-affect-duis.html.

3 Id.

4 Deanne Katz, You Got an Out-of-State DUI: Now What?, blogs.findlaw.com, http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2012/10/you-got-an-out-of-state-dui-now-what.html (last visited Nov. 18, 2014).

5 James Hirby, Do DUIs Carry Over Into Different States?, thelawdictionary.com,  http://thelawdictionary.org/article/do-duis-carry-over-into-different-states/ (last visited Nov. 18, 2014).

6 DUI Violations Across State Lines, tandvlaw.com, http://www.tandvlaw.com/law-library/dui-violations-across-state-lines/ (last visited Nov. 18, 2014).

7 Driver’s License Compact, apps.csg.org, http://apps.csg.org/ncic/Compact.aspx?id=56 (last visited Nov. 18, 2014).

8 Aditi Mukherji, supra note 2.