What if I received a DUI in one state and then moved to another without taking care of it?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If you received a DUI in the state you formerly lived in and did not take care of the violation, there is very likely a warrant for your arrest in your former state based on a “failure to appear in court” violation (known as FTA). Even though you are now living in another state, the state that you got the DUI in will still require that you take necessary steps as ordered by their state’s court. In fact, if you are pulled over in another state, you’ll likely be arrested and, perhaps, extradited to your former state.

The statute of limitations on a DUI, or other violations for that matter, never runs out while you’re across state lines. At some point, either voluntarily or by arrest, you’ll likely have to “face the music,” and by then, the ordeal may prove much more costly, both in terms of money and possible jail time, than it would have been originally. In addition, you may not be allowed out on bail because you have already shown yourself to be a “flight risk,” which means you would be in jail while you await trial. Your sentence on the original crime of DUI or DWI will be enhanced because of the flight to avoid prosecution, as you’ve now committed two crimes.

In this case, your best option is to contact, and retain, a DUI attorney in your former state, tell him or her your story from your new state, and have that attorney try to make a deal or “plea bargain” with the local District Attorney (DA) in your former state. The DA will likely be willing to recommend a less severe punishment for you, in exchange for your voluntary return to that state. The outcome is sure to be better taking this route rather than if you happened to be arrested and forced to come back to face the charges.

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