Texas is a big, beautiful state. There are lots to see and do here, both for pleasure and business. Nearly 10 million people visit our state each year. You may come to visit friends or family, or you may come to vacation or work. Whatever the case, you find yourself in Texas, and sometimes you may find yourself out to have a drink with friends, family or colleagues. Maybe you had one drink too many, and then attempted to drive back to your hotel or family's home. En route, you were pulled over for a traffic stop. The police officer suspected alcohol, and you either confirmed or denied it. A police investigation ensued, and you were eventually arrested and taken into custody and charged with DWI or related offense.
Your first thought may be: at least it's in Texas and not my home state. For most of you, however, it won't matter; it will be as though you were in your home state unless you live in a select few states that do not share traffic criminal moving violations. Texas has joined 44 other states to share DWI / DUI information, among other moving violation information. As such, you need an experienced attorney to fight your DWI in Texas as you would do if you were in your home state. You are likely aware of the consequences that accompany a conviction: jail time and steep fees. There are also collateral consequences that could affect your career, especially if your career is or involves being a pilot, nurse, medical professional or requires you to have security clearance; academic aspirations; your family; or your overall good name.
It is in your best interests not to misunderstand the consequences of your out-of-state DWI in Texas; get an experienced attorney who is willing to do what it takes to uphold your rights and your freedom. Doug Murphy, representing Houston and surrounding counties, is Board-certified in DWI defense and Board-certified in criminal defense, the combination of which no other attorney in Texas can boast, but one other attorney. Doug Murphy's capabilities are extensive, and part of his strategy is preparation for trial from the outset. Doug Murphy knows that the State prefers plea deals so they can quickly move on to the next DUI; Doug Murphy also knows that plea deals are almost always not in your best interest because it will still impact your life in and outside the court system.
Preparing for trial and, indeed going to trial, is a strategy to make certain no stone is left unturned; he challenges everything from the administrative hearing so you can keep your license during the pendency of your DWI criminal case to police officer testimony to sobriety, breath or blood tests. Contact Doug Murphy today if you have been charged with DWI in Texas but claim another state as your home and want to make sure your criminal record stays clean, not tarnished due to a mistake or lapse in good judgment.
What Happens if You are an Out-of-State Resident & are Arrested for DWI in Texas?
It does not matter if you are a resident of another state and are only in Texas temporarily; you still allegedly committed an offense in Texas, thus, Texas jurisdiction prevails. What this means is simple: your DWI case will be heard and tried in Texas. And in Texas, like most other states, there are two processes that result from a DWI charge: a criminal process and an administrative process.
Criminal Process & Penalties
If you were charged with DWI or another related charge in Texas, you must take care of the criminal charges in Texas. Hiring an attorney in Texas is to your benefit because it may allow you to return home while charges are pending and he negotiates for dismissal or prepares for trial. Your criminal case will be the deciding factor in the administrative process and its effect on your driving privileges, if your home state belongs to the Driver License Compact Commission (see below).
If your DWI or DWI related conviction results in jail time and DWI school, then you could potentially serve your time and complete DWI school in your home state. A Texan judge could allow you to serve your sentence in your home state.
Administrative Process & Penalties
If you are convicted of DWI in Texas, Texas will report it to the licensing department in your home state per the requirements of membership to the Driver License Compact Commission (see below). If your driver's license would have been suspended in accordance with your home state laws, then your license will be suspended in accordance with your home state. Your home state will input your driver license suspension into the National Driver Registry (see below), and any state -- member or not tot he Driver License Compact Commission -- can find out if your license is suspended or not.
Driver License Compact Commission: What It Is
Texas is a member of the Driver License Compact Commission (“Interstate Compact”). It joined in 1993, three decades after the Interstate Compact was born and the first couple of states joined. The Interstate Compact is meant to help states “exchange information concerning license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents and forward them to the state where they are licensed known as the home state.” The program is aligned with the idea that there is: One Driver, One License, One Record.
The offense is supposed to be treated by each state as though the offense took place in the home state, thus, the home state would apply its state laws to your out-of-state conviction. Actions that could be taken by the home state include anything from points assessed on your driver's license record to driver's license suspension to fees to jail time. In addition to DWI, the Interstate Compact requires Member States to report and clearly identify the violation and indicate whether a plea of guilty or not guilty was entered. Other violations to be reported include but are not limited to:
- Intoxication Manslaughter
- Intoxication Assault
- Negligent Homicide
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- DWI Drugs - Marijuana
- DWI Drugs - Prescription
- Felony while using a motor vehicle
- Failure to Stop and Render Aid
- Failure to Stop and Give Information.
Driver License Compact Commission: Its Impact on You
The impact of a DWI charge and possible conviction on you is dependent in part on the member-status of your home state. There could be positive, negative or neutral effects on you and your driver's license upon return to your home state. Below is a brief summary of what the membership status of your home state might mean for you.
Home State Party to the Interstate Compact
If your home state is party to the Interstate Compact, then the overall impact on you if convicted is a conviction that carries the same penalties that your home state applies to DWI or DUI cases similar to yours.
If your home state penalties are stricter, then it is to your detriment, but if penalties in Texas are stricter than your home state, then it's to your benefit.
Regardless, a conviction means penalties applied to you in your home state. Thus, a DWI in Texas is like getting a DWI in your home state. You can mistakenly believe you can run and hide, but you can't. Texas will place a warrant for your arrest if you do not show for your hearing, so if you return to Texas, you could be arrested again. It is best that you fight the charge; it doesn't just go away because you return to your home state.
Home State Not Party to the Interstate Compact
All states of the United States belong to the Interstate Compact but five states. Those five states are:
If your home state is any state but these five-listed states, Texas shares your DWI conviction with your state, as noted above. If, however, your home state is one of these above-listed five states, then you stand a chance of not having your license suspended.
The state of Texas is not permitted to revoke or suspend your driver's license, which was issued by another state; only the issuing state is permitted to suspend or revoke. Without the Interstate Compact, there are no guarantees the home state will do anything at all about your Texas DWI. Massachusetts, however, does have a policy in place that it will notify a person's resident state directly and provide the details of a DWI / DUI arrest and information related to that arrest. Massachusetts will also treat an out-of-state DWI just as if the offense occurred in Massachusetts. The other four states, however, have no comparable procedures in place. This means your Tennessee driver's license may likely not be suspended.
You still, however, have criminal charges to deal with in Texas.
National Driver Registry
You should also know that the Interstate Compact works with the National Driver Registry. Each State -- regardless if a member to the Interstate Compact -- must input in the registry's computer databank information on your conviction of a DWI or DUI. Each member State must check the registry's databank whenever a person applies for a driver's license or if the resident's driver's license is up for renewal. If there is an out-of-state suspension on your record, then the Member State is required to deny your application.
For example, if you are convicted in Texas, but live in Georgia, Texas will input your DWI conviction into the Registry, and Georgia can -- even though it is not a member of the Interstate Compact -- access this Registry if it wants, but it does not have to. On the other hand, if you lived in Georgia but moved to Texas, Georgia is required to input your Georgia DUI in the Registry, and Texas -- as a member to the Interstate Compact -- is required to check the registry. If it finds that your driver's license is suspended your application for a license in Texas will be denied.
Is it Worth It to Fight a DWI in Texas if You Reside in Another State?
The short answer is simple: Yes. You will suffer the same consequences in your home state that you would have suffered if DWI or DUI charge occurred in your home state. Because there are serious, life-altering consequences attached to a conviction, it is imperative to fine an attorney who will go trial, and indeed prepares for trial from the onset of your case. This process will optimize your chance of having your case either dismissed prior to trial or acquitted if it goes to trial. And rest assured, if you hire an attorney, in most circumstances, you will not be required to return to Texas for hearings but will have to return if the case goes to trial.
Doug Murphy has been defending the rights of DWI suspects for two decades. His success in the courtroom is testimony to his experience and the insight that transpires from that experience. He travels throughout Texas and beyond to teach other DWI lawyers how to defend their clients in the same manner. He is passionate about what he does and is constantly identifying ways to improve his method.
Comprehensive, Resourceful DWI Defense Attorney in Houston
Attorney Doug Murphy is a Board-certified criminal defense lawyer and a Board-certified DWI lawyer who understands the importance of preserving his clients' rights and freedom. Contact Doug Murphy online or at 713-229-8333 today to discuss the circumstances of your case.