It is illegal in every state to operate a motorized vehicle with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration or 0.08% or higher. It is also illegal to operate a motorized vehicle if you are unable to do so safely, regardless of your BAC. We recently had a DUI driver ask, “If I had a conviction 16 years ago and I am convicted a second time for drunk driving, if I move to Florida can I get a Florida driver’s license?”
How long is the look back period for your home state?
There are several issues. Unfortunately, this driver did not mention where he was arrested and state laws vary. For instance, all states have what they term “look back periods” which is the amount of time that a previous DUI conviction will be considered when the court is evaluating the penalties for all subsequent DUI convictions.
For instance, if your state has a five year look back period and you are arrested and convicted of DUI within that five years, your recent DUI conviction would be considered your second. Other states have much longer DUI look back periods; in fact, some states have life-time DUI look back periods.
But whether you are convicted of a first or second DUI it is likely your license will be suspended by your home state. The next question is whether or not Florida will have information about your license suspension, and this will depend on whether or not your state is part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact.
Is your state part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact?
The Driver’s License Compact was created in 1961 and Nevada was the first state to become a member. Now all states are part of this agreement with the exception of Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin. If you live in one of these five states they are not required to report your DUI convictions to Florida; however, some states still provide information even though they are not technically part of the Driver’s License Compact.
For instance, although Wisconsin is not a member of the Driver’s License Compact they have negotiated their own agreements to share information with the driver’s home state.
Why is this information relevant to the question posed above? There is a chance that Florida will not have record of the DUI convictions, but most likely if the driver’s license is suspended in their home state Florida will be aware of this fact and will require the driver to meet the requirements for reinstatement in their home state before they will issue a Florida license.
Were you convicted of DUI or are you facing an administrative license suspension?
If you have been arrested for DUI and you refuse to take the blood alcohol concentration test or you submit to the test and your BAC is above the legal limit you may face an administrative license suspension, which may occur even if you are not convicted of DUI.
So for the question above, even if the driver is not convicted of DUI they may still be facing an administrative license suspension in their home state, which Florida may or may not know about.
What do I do if my license has been suspended in my home state?
As mentioned above, if your license has been suspended due to a DUI conviction or through administrative penalties and your state is a member of the Driver’s License Compact, than if you choose to move to Florida and apply for a driver’s license Florida will most likely have information regarding your DUI conviction in your home state and will not issue you a Florida license until the requirements for your suspension have been met in your home state.
So the first step is to determine whether your drunk driving information will be sent to Florida, and if so, what the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles will require you to do before they will agree to issue you a Florida driver’s license. The requirements are likely to include waiting until your license suspension is finished, buying the appropriate insurance, and paying all fines and penalties.