Pennsylvania has long been an attractive travel destination for tourists worldwide. Riddled with attractions, national landmarks and a distinctive combination of cityscapes and countrysides, it's no surprise that millions of people flock to the state every year to visit. But with this large influx of visitors comes the increased likelihood of tourists experiencing run-ins with the state's law enforcement, who have been known to aggressively seek out drivers they suspect of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Acquiring a DUI in your home state is stressful, but at least you know what to expect. Being pulled over and arrested for a DUI with an unfamiliar state with different series of laws and penalties can be an incredibly frightening experience. If you have been apprehended and charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania and you reside in another state, you are most likely concerned about the legal ramifications you will face if charged with this crime and how a conviction will affect you once you return home.
Driver's License Compact (DLC)
When you are pulled over and charged with driving under the influence, the arrest could possibly jeopardize the driving privileges both in the state of Pennsylvania and in the state that issued you your license. The severity of these compromised privileges is determined by whether your home state is part of the Interstate Driver's License Compact. This agreement, comprised of 46 states in the nation, is intended to ensure that driver's out-of-state offenses are recognized by their home state.
Members of this compact have agreed to uphold a series of provisions that maximize law enforcement efforts. These states have agreed to report all traffic arrests, convictions, license suspensions and revocations, and other relevant information pertaining to out-of-state drivers to their home state's licensing department. Each state must treat these motorists in a fashion that reflects the way they would be treated in their home state. Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Georgia, Tennessee, and Michigan are the only states that do not partake in the DLC. However, these non-member states still tend to suspend home state licenses once they catch wind of an out-of-state DUI conviction.
Penalties for Out of State Drivers in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has the authority to dictate who is lawfully allowed to drive on state roadways. For residents who reside in Pennsylvania, a DUI arrest and conviction requires them to hand over their physical license in subjection to license suspension laws. In cases involving out-of-state residents, Pennsylvania is prohibited from taking or suspending a license issued by another state. However, the state is allowed to stop out-of-state motorists from driving in Pennsylvania for a duration of time. Since an official license suspension is not imposed, motorists can legally drive in any other state except Pennsylvania during this period of time.
During this unofficial suspension, it is important that out-of-state drivers submit paperwork to PennDOT to obtain credit and eventually restore driving privileges. One of the most important pieces of paperwork is called the “acknowledgment form,” which confirms that a driver is aware that he or she has their driving privileges stripped in the state for a specific period of time. Drivers who undergo this suspension often times opt out of submitting this form due to the false belief that it won't affect their privileges in their home state. This could not be further from the truth. If a driver wishes to renew their license in a home state, the state agency requires that all stipulations are cleared before doing so. Failing to turn in the appropriate paperwork to Pennsylvania authorities signifies that the suspension has not been fully served. Therefore, this would have to be sorted out before your license can be issued.
After an Arrest
An out-of-state DUI is an inconvenience that can haunt you for years after it occurs. In order to avoid the troubles that come with this unfortunate ordeal, you could fight the case. However, whether you decided to pursue legal action or not, it's important that you make smart decisions that could make matters easier for you if you decide that you may want to. Here are a few tips that could benefit all drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence:
In these cases, a conviction often boils down to the account of an arresting officer versus your version of what transpired. Law enforcement officials are required to submit a police report explaining their reasoning for pulling you over, how you performed on your roadside tests, and your legal blood content level once chemical tests come back, whether or not you were compliant etc. If they can provide a detailed account of what happened during trial, you should be able to also. This is why it's important that you keep your composure in the moment and try to remember as many details regarding before, during and after an arrest. Even miniscule details could make the largest difference in the outcome of a DUI case. It's important to remember that a police report is an officer's perceived account of events. If you fail to document your own, law enforcement's account will be the only account that a court will use to determine if you are innocent or guilty.
You have the right to an attorney
Although many out-of-state drivers are aware of this right, they may refuse to take advantage of it due to the common misconception that hiring a lawyer is a waste of time and money. A legal professional will be able to explain Pennsylvania's complex DUI system in a way that you will understand. He or she will also be able to indicate whether your rights were violated and if your arrest was lawful. If you are on the fence, there is no harm in at least consulting with an attorney to weigh your options and assess the potential outcome of your case.