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.
What many drivers do not realize, however, is that many states have an agreement that if a driver has traveled to another state is arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in that state the driver’s home state may be notified of the drunk driving charge. This notification often triggers a license suspension or other DUI penalties in the home state, some of which may be considered “administrative penalties” and may occur even if a driver is not convicted of DUI.
When will my license be suspended in my home state?
The agreement referenced above is called the Interstate Driver’s License Compact and currently it includes the 45 member states who have agreed to trade information concerning specific traffic violations and crimes including DUI and vehicular manslaughter.
This agreement was first created in 1961 and since then most states have joined with the exception of Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Recently we had a user on our forum ask why their Minnesota license was suspended after their Wisconsin DWI. As mentioned above, Wisconsin is not a member of the driver’s license compact, but they have negotiated their own agreements to share information with the driver’s home state.
For instance, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation does receive information from other states about Wisconsin drivers who violate the driving laws and these infractions are entered and retained in the driver’s record, although they do not assess points for the convictions. The bottom line is they will receive information and share information with other states, although they are not part of the Drivers License Compact and are not forced to meet the terms of the DLC agreement.
What do I do if my license has been suspended in my home state?
If you have your license suspended from a driving infraction which occurred in another state you will have to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the offending state for more information about your driver’s license suspension and what must be done to reinstate your license.
As mentioned above, a license suspension may be a result of an administrative penalty assessed by the state. For instance, drivers who fail the blood alcohol content test in Wisconsin will receive a six month suspension of their driver’s license. Drivers who refuse the blood alcohol content test will have their license suspended for one year. These administrative penalties are civil penalties and are assessed regardless of whether you are convicted of a Wisconsin DWI.
To avoid the administrative suspension you will have to challenge the administrative suspension through a hearing and win. If you do not win your hearing and your license is suspended you will have to serve the required suspension period, pay the necessary fees, and potentially take a drug and alcohol class.
If you are ultimately convicted of DWI in Wisconsin the penalties can be even more severe and you will need to discuss your options with either a DWI lawyer or consult with the Department of Transportation in Wisconsin. After you have met the requirements in Wisconsin you will have to talk to the Department of Transportation in Minnesota and discuss what steps you will have to take to reinstate your Minnesota license.