Charged with DUI in another state will home state of Massachusetts find out?

Some drivers mistakenly believe that if they receive a DUI in another state they can simply return home and ignore the DUI arrest. Recently on our legal forum a driver asked, “If I got a DUI in another state but I live in Massachusetts will my license be suspended in Massachusetts? Will they find out about the DUI arrest and license suspension?”

Driver’s License Compact states (DLC)

The most common way that another state will find out about a DUI in another state is through the Driver’s License Compact agreement. Under this compact forty-five states have agreed to report licensing convictions to other participating states.

Oddly enough, Massachusetts is one of only five states (Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Massachusetts (MA), and Michigan) that do not currently participate in the DLC.

Does this mean that they will not find out about your DUI arrest? No, in fact, there are several different ways the state of Massachusetts may still receive notification of your arrest.

Reporting the DUI to the National Driver Register

Another national system which is used by all states to report license suspensions in other states for a DUI conviction, chemical test failings, or refusals to submit to a chemical test, is called the National Driver Register.

Massachusetts may not find out about the offense immediately, but if you have to renew your license the Massachusetts DMV is supposed to check the National Driver Register to confirm you are eligible for a new license. If they determine your license has been suspended in another state they will deny your Massachusetts license renewal request.

Non Resident Violator Compact (NRVC) and the Driver’s License Agreement (DLA)

Two other notification systems may also send information to Massachusetts about traffic violations. The Non-Resident Violator Compactor notifies states if a driver has a moving violation in another state which is outstanding. Currently 44 states participate in this agreement, including Massachusetts.

The Driver’s License Agreement (DLA) also allows states to report certain traffic violations to other states, although it is less popular than the other agreements described above.

Can I ignore an out of state DUI?

It may be tempting to simply ignore a DUI arrest which occurred out of town, but that would be a mistake. Travelling back to the state where the offense occurred, even if it is hundreds of miles away, is preferable to the consequences of not showing up for your DUI hearing.

Not only can you be automatically convicted of DUI if you do not appear at your hearing, the state could issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If your license is suspended you can guarantee that the state of Massachusetts will eventually be notified or will learn about the license suspension when you go to have your Massachusetts license renewed.

If they do find out your license is suspended in another state they will suspend your Massachusetts license and will refuse to issue a new license until you have completed the suspension and restored your driving privileges in the offending state.

Furthermore, Massachusetts has agreed to uphold other state suspensions and will generally not provide any type of override for an indefinite NDR revocation from another state.

Bottom line:

Ignoring an out of state DUI is a big mistake. While it may take some time and effort, it’s best to take care of the DUI, including making the effort to clear any impediments to drive in the state where the DUI occurred.

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