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What Happens When an Illinois Resident Gets a DUI in Another State?

Posted on in DUI Defense

IL defense lawyerImagine you are on vacation in Florida, or maybe up at the lake in Wisconsin. You go out for dinner and have a few cocktails. Driving back on unfamiliar streets, you get pulled over by the police for a traffic violation, and end up arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)—or as they call it in Wisconsin, Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).

If you get arrested in another state, one of your first thoughts is likely to be, “Will the state of Illinois find out about this? Can I lose my Illinois driver’s license as the result of a DUI committed in another state with different laws?”

The short answer is, “Yes.” States share driver information. The effect of an out-of-state DUI conviction on your Illinois driver’s license can be the same as if you got the DUI conviction in Illinois.

How States Share Information About Drivers and Violations

Each state has a department responsible for issuing driver’s licenses and overseeing license suspensions, revocations, cancellations, and reinstatements. In Illinois, it is the Secretary of State’s office. In Wisconsin, it is the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For the sake of simplicity, we will use the term DMV.

The U.S. has two systems that facilitate interstate sharing of driver information: the National Driver Register and the Driver License Compact.

The National Driver Register (NDR)

All 50 states and the District of Columbia are required by federal law to report driver information to this central database. This system prevents someone whose driver’s license is suspended or revoked in one state from being issued a license in another state.

For example, if an Illinois driver is arrested and convicted for DUI in Wisconsin, the process works as follows:

  • The Wisconsin police department that arrests you for DUI will issue you a notice of any pre-trial driver’s license suspension or revocation that may apply, according to the laws of Wisconsin, and report that to the Wisconsin DMV. Your Illinois driver’s license is not taken away; only your right to drive in Wisconsin is affected.
  • Some months later, the Wisconsin court in which you are convicted of DUI will report your sentence—which may include further suspension or revocation of your license—to the Wisconsin DMV. Again, only your right to drive in Wisconsin is affected. (Regardless of your state of residency, your court sentence could also include jail time, fines, community service, drug/alcohol evaluation, and/or educational programs, which you must complete per Wisconsin state law.)
  • Each state’s DMV must report all driver’s license suspensions and revocations to the NDR within 31 days of receipt.
  • Every state checks the NDR before issuing or renewing a driver’s license. So, if you try to renew your Illinois driver’s license or apply for a driver’s license in another state before the Wisconsin suspension/revocation period has passed, you will be denied. However, Illinois will probably have already caught you through the Driver License Compact.

The Driver License Compact

All but a handful of states have made the interstate Driver License Compact a part of their state laws or regulations; Michigan and Wisconsin are among the non-participating states. The participating states have agreed to the practice of “One Driver, One License, One Record.”

If you hold an Illinois driver’s license, a moving violation committed in any Compact state will be reported to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, where it will be recorded on your Illinois driving record. Illinois can then suspend or revoke your license according to the applicable Illinois law. For example, if an out-of-state DUI is the third DUI to appear on your Illinois record, your license will be suspended or revoked per the Illinois laws applying to a third DUI conviction.

Get Help From a Skilled DuPage County DUI Defense Attorney

If you are an Illinois resident charged with DUI in another state, you would be well advised to immediately consult an attorney in both that state and in Illinois. An experienced Oakbrook Terrace DUI lawyer can advise the out-of-state attorney about the applicable Illinois law, which may impact the out-of-state attorney’s defense strategy. Your Illinois lawyer can also assist you with the Illinois Secretary of State hearings involving the suspension/revocation of your driver’s license. For a free initial consultation, call McMahon Law Office at 630-953-4400.






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