If you're facing a charge for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in another state, you may think it's a relief that the arrest didn't happen in Texas. Texas treats DWI convictions seriously, with serious penalties and consequences to your driving record. But don't breathe a sigh of relief yet. Texas and 44 other states belong to the Driver License Compact Commission to ensure that drivers convicted of DUI or DWI in other states will still face the consequences at home. While penalties for DUI vary widely across the country, if a state belonging to the Interstate Compact convicts you of DUI, you will still face serious consequences in Texas.
The Interstate Compact
Texas has been a member of the Interstate Compact since 1993. Under the Interstate Compact, Texas treats an out-of-state DWI offense by one of its licensed drivers as if the offense and conviction happened in Texas. Texas could take both criminal and administrative action against you, including:
- Taking points from your license,
- Suspending your driver's license,
- Fining you, and
- Sending you to jail.
Whether an out-of-state DUI conviction will affect you in Texas depends largely on whether the state of your conviction is a member of the Interstate Compact. Under the Interstate Compact, other member states will report a DUI or DWI to Texas, the specifics of the charge, and whether pled guilty or not guilty.
1. If the DUI or DWI State is Part of the Compact
If the state that convicted you of DUI or DWI is a member of the Interstate Compact, that conviction will carry the same penalties in Texas that a conviction in Texas would carry. So, in addition to facing possible jail time and fines in another state, you could face the same at home in Texas. If Texas has stricter penalties than the state where you got your DUI or DWI conviction, you may face those stricter penalties at home in Texas.
2. If the DUI or DWI State Doesn't Belong to the Compact.
There are only five states in the U.S. that don't belong to the Interstate Compact. These states include:
However, even though these states aren't signatories to the Interstate Compact, they may report your DUI or DWI to Texas anyway. For example, Massachusetts has a policy of notifying other states of DWI convictions out-of-state residents acquire while in Massachusetts, even though Massachusetts isn't a member of the Interstate Compact.
The National Driver Registry
If Texas suspends your license because of your out-of-state DUI, it will also enter your suspension into a National Driver Registry. Any state in the country can see your license suspension whether it is a member of the Interstate Compact or not.
Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Defense
If you're facing a DUI in another state, it's important to act quickly to ensure you can mitigate the consequences here in Texas. You should hire an expert in Texas DWI defense with experience handling out-of-state convictions as soon as possible.
Attorney Doug Murphy is an expert in both criminal defense and DWI law and is Board Certified in DWI defense and criminal defense law. Doug is also the 2021 Houston Lawyer of the Year for DWI defense. Contact the seasoned criminal DWI attorneys at the Doug Murphy Law Firm online or at (713) 229-8333 today to set up a consultation.