What happens if you find yourself face-to-face with an out-of-state DWI in Texas? Does that DWI charge follow you home or are you in the clear once you return to your state?

This question is two-fold. You could live in another state, visit Texas, and then get a DWI. Or, you could live in Texas, visit another state, and then get a DWI. In either situation, you should know that Texas shares DWI information with other states (and vice versa), which means you should worry. 

An out-of-state DWI in Texas will follow you around, and you’re not in the clear once you’re back home. In fact, if you’re convicted in Texas, you should expect to be held liable for the same criminal charges any person convicted of a DWI in your state would face. This includes fines, penalties, and lasting repercussions to your criminal record.

What happens when you get a DWI in a state you don’t live in?

If you get an out-of-state DWI in Texas, you will still be charged and you will still be subject to appropriate legal process. So, if you’re wondering, “What happens when you get a DWI in a state you don’t live in?”, the answer is simple. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Just because you don’t live in the state you commited a crime in does not mean you are not legally obligated to follow the law of that state. Take, for instance, a murderer who lives in Florida. Let’s say they travel to Texas, murder someone, and then go back to Florida. Just because they went back to Florida doesn’t mean they’re safe from persecution. Similarly put, they aren’t only considered a murderer in Texas. Long story short, a crime committed is a crime committed… it doesn’t matter where you call home.

Do you have to return to Texas to go to court?

Obviously, a run-of-the-mill DWI is not comparable to murder, and because of this, the legal process can be somewhat different. For example, with an out-of-state DWI in Texas, you may not always be required to return to court for any necessary hearings. If you partner with the right lawyer who is familiar with these types of cases, they may be able to handle everything in Texas on your behalf (and your presence will not be necessary).

How does an out-of-state DWI in Texas affect you?

You may be wondering how a DWI, in particular, can affect you. In most cases, a first-offense DWI is a misdemeanor, and prison time is usually rare with drinking and driving charges. However, there are usually several administrative penalties associated with a DWI charge. For example, the court may move to suspend or revoke your driving privileges, in addition to fines and fees you may be expected to pay for the duration of your suspension and/or probation. But can Texas suspend an out-of-state license?

Luckily, no, Texas can’t suspend an out-of-state license. However, Texas is part of the Driver’s License Compact (DLC), which shares DWI information with other states. And this is where things can get a little tricky for you.

If you are eventually convicted of the DWI, then you will face punishments according to the laws of your home state. In other words, if your state normally suspends licenses for DWI convictions, then that’s what you should expect to happen to your license — even if the DWI happened in Texas.

This also pertains to overall penalties. If your state is part of the DLC (like Texas is), then your home state penalties will trump Texas penalties (this also goes vice versa — if you get a DWI in another state and you live in Texas, then you will face Texas DWI penalties). At this point, you better cross your fingers and hope that your home state penalties are less severe than Texas penalties for a DWI.

Pulled over in Texas? Make sure you know your rights during a traffic stop.

What states are part of the DLC?

With the Driver License Compact (sometimes referred to as the Interstate Compact), your out-of-state DWI conviction will be acknowledged in your home state. As a result, your home state laws will be applied. Basically, it would be exactly as if you received the DWI in your home state. But what states are involved in the DLC? Almost all of them.

There are only five states that aren’t involved in the DLC — Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Michigan. Keep in mind, however, Massachusetts has other policies in place that will notify your home state of a DWI and that will treat an out-of-state-DWI as if it was received in Massachusetts.

Another thing to remember is that even if your state is not part of the DLC, your criminal charges in Texas will not disappear. You will still have to deal with those charges.

What is the National Driver Registry?

Aside from the DCL, there’s also something known as the National Driver Registry. Anyone who receives a DWI will have their personal information and case information inputted into this database. Future applications for licenses could be held up based on the information provided by this database. 

What if you live in Texas but got a DWI in another state?

As we’ve covered above, Texas is part of the DCL. So, if you got a DWI in another state, you’ll need to brush up on Texas DWI Penalties — because that’s what you’ll be facing if convicted. 

You may be wondering, “Can Texas suspend an out-of-state license?” Your out-of-state DWI in Texas will definitely result in some form of a license suspension. The administrative license suspension can last up to 180 days — which happens once you’ve been arrested and accused of DWI (before you’re even convicted). And if you are convicted, you can expect at least a 90-day suspension. 

Whether you got a DWI and live in Texas or you live in another state and got the DWI in Texas, you need to be ready to fight the charge. Since all states have access to the National Driver Registry and a conviction can stay on your record for many years to come, an out-of-state DWI can negatively interfere with your life. You’ll want to research the best DWI lawyer in Houston and figure out how to get a DWI expunged in Texas.

In Texas, a DUI is not the same thing as a DWI. Learn more about DWI vs. DUI in Texas.

How to fight an out-of-state DWI in Texas

The first step to overcoming an out-of-state DWI in Texas is to invest in a lawyer who has experience fighting this special type of DWI. Not only do you need a lawyer who knows about the intricacies of Texas DWI laws, but you need a lawyer who can help you fight your case from afar. 

Here at Thiessen Law Firm, we have the experience you’re looking for. With over a hundred Not Guilty verdicts and thousands of dismissals, we can help you overcome your out-of-state DWI and get back to your regular life as quickly as possible. 

More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm:

Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.