Robin Fuson

How To Deal With An Out-Of-State DUI Warrant


What happens if you are in one state, but another state wants to arrest you for driving under the influence?

Maybe you were booked on the charge and you fled to Florida, or maybe the charge is old and you’ve simply forgotten about it.

Will another state be able to have you returned from Florida?

If there’s an out-of-state DUI warrant with your name on it, what are your legal rights and options?

Bench warrants are arrest warrants that are typically issued in DUI cases when a suspect has been released but fails to show up for court.

The suspect may not have remembered or known about the original court date.

Sometimes, authorities didn’t have the defendant’s correct address, so efforts to notify the defendant about a court date by mail weren’t even received.

In other cases, some drivers who are visiting another state simply post bail after a driving under the influence arrest, and then head home.

Scores of drivers do this every year, but it’s not smart.

They are betting that the DUI warrant will simply be overlooked the next time they encounter a law enforcement officer.


Every case is different, and how a DUI warrant is handled will be determined to a great extent by the details of the charge and by the suspect’s prior criminal history.

Generally speaking, a previous offender who is wanted for felony driving under the influence is more likely to be extradited – returned to the state where the DUI allegedly occurred – than a first-time offender wanted for misdemeanor DUI.

The only court that can try a defendant for a driving under the influence charge is a court in the state where the DUI allegedly happened.

Thus, if you are arrested in Florida for a driving under the influence charge filed in another state, that state will have to extradite you in order to prosecute you.

If this happens to you in central Florida, speak to an experienced Tampa DUI defense attorney who can review your case and advise you regarding your best course of action.

In extradition cases, the state seeking to have the suspect returned is called the “demanding” state, while the state where the defendant is currently located is called the “asylum” state.

Extraditions are expensive and time-consuming for both states. In some states like Oklahoma, there are different laws, it is advised to speak with an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney.

The asylum state is obligated to arrest and detain another state’s wanted suspect, and the demanding state must take custody of the suspect within a specified amount of time.


The state of Florida, like most states, seldom attempts to extradite from other states anyone accused of misdemeanor driving under the influence, but again, every case is different.

And most warrants are valid for ten years, so you could be arrested during a traffic stop in another state for a misdemeanor DUI in Florida even if Florida chooses, upon learning of your arrest, not to pursue extradition.

However, a felony driving under the influence charge is a substantially different matter.

When driving under the influence causes serious injury or injuries, one or more fatalities, or substantial property damage, the state of Florida will almost certainly seek to extradite a suspect from another state to stand trial in Florida.

When Michael Hammer of Ocala, for example, was apprehended in Connecticut in 2011, Florida brought him back to face charges including DUI manslaughter, DUI with injury to another, and two counts of DUI with property damage.

In 2016, Florida authorities even went to Spain to retrieve a suspect named Christopher Ponce for a 2012 driving under the influence manslaughter charge in a case that was featured on CNN.


If you are arrested in Florida for a DUI from another state, if you believe that another state is seeking to arrest you for DUI, or if you are visiting from another state and you are arrested for driving under the influence here in Florida, you’ll need the advice and representation that a skilled Tampa DUI defense attorney can provide.

Because Florida is so popular as both a tourist and business destination, Florida’s DUI attorneys frequently handle cases for visitors to our state who’ve been charged with driving under the influence.

In some misdemeanor cases, your attorney may be able to have the charge dismissed or make arrangements so that you do not have to return to Florida for a formal trial.

You probably will not become a “fugitive from justice” because of a misdemeanor DUI charge, but you should know that an out-of-state DUI charge could mean that your driving privilege is restricted.

DUI charges in many states, including Florida, entail an “administrative” driver’s license suspension that is separate and distinct from any criminal penalty imposed for a DUI conviction.


The National Driver Registry (NDR) provides 45 states with a way to enforce a driver’s license suspension imposed by another state.

Thus, if you are arrested for driving under the influence in the state of Florida, even if your driver’s license was issued by another state, the probable result will be a Florida administrative driver’s license suspension that will follow you back home or anywhere else you drive in the United States.

Tampa DUI attorney Robin Fuson explains:

“Florida, generally, will reciprocate and not allow someone with an out-of-state suspension a Florida driving permit. The DMVs are linked by computer, and a great majority of the time, Florida will know about an out-of-state suspension. On the other side of the coin, we handle many out-of-state clients who are here on vacation or business who get DUI, and while they don’t have a Florida driver’s license, Florida suspends their right to drive in Florida.”

He further explains, “The state generates a driver’s license number and creates a record. The client will not be able to drive in their home state, if and only if, the home state is aware of and acknowledges the Florida suspension. Florida has no right to suspend the right of someone with an out-of-state license to drive in that or any other state.”

Finally, according to Robin Fuson, “Should the client’s home state suspend their license due to the reciprocity agreement, we must clear up the client’s situation in Florida before the home state will allow the re-issuance of their license.”


Thus, if you are visiting Florida and you are charged with driving under the influence, you’ll need to contact a Tampa DUI defense attorney immediately to contest the administrative suspension of your driver’s license by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).

The license suspension must be contested within ten days of the DUI arrest.

Let a qualified Florida DUI attorney represent you before the Florida DHSMV.

DUI is the most frequently-charged crime in the United States, so DUI attorneys are not hard to find, but wherever you are and whatever circumstances you face, if you are dealing with any driving under the influence charge, selecting the right DUI attorney is imperative.

While few attorneys are admitted to practice in more than one state, a good DUI lawyer in one state may be able to recommend an equally capable DUI attorney in another.

Finally, no discussion of DUI is complete without a reminder that the best advice regarding DUI isn’t even legal advice.

Don’t Drink and Drive.

It’s just common sense, and it’s the only sure way to avoid the legal troubles that can follow you – from state to state, and for years into the future – if you are arrested and charged with DUI.

Robin Fuson
By Robin Fuson