DUI Checkpoint
Arrested for a DUI in another country?

A conviction for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol in California can lead to expensive fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and even jail time. But, as a licensed California driver, what can happen to you if you receive a DUI in another country?

Actor Chris Pine recently ran into this predicament. While celebrating the end of filming for his new movie Z for Zachariah, he and some of the film’s cast allegedly consumed shots of vodka at a party in New Zealand. Pine reportedly left the party with his own car and drove himself back to his hotel.

The Star Trek actor drove with a blood alcohol level of .11, which is over New Zealand’s legal limit of .08. He admitted to the arresting officer that he had a few shots of vodka leading up to the incident. Pine was fined 93 New Zealand dollars (which is about 79 US dollars) and also had his New Zealand driver’s license suspended for six months.1

Could Chris Pine also face charges in California since he is also a resident of the state? How might his DUI conviction in New Zealand affect his overall record? Receiving a DUI in a foreign country can certainly have an impact on your life for several reasons…

1.      It Can Affect Your Immigration Status

If you are not a U.S. citizen, but you are looking to become one, a criminal record is a major roadblock. Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States has a “good character” requirement. Having been convicted of a misdemeanor crime such as a DUI in your country of origin or elsewhere could keep you from meeting this requirement.2

2.      It Can Impact Your Sentencing For Other Crimes

The crimes on your criminal record are not considered independent events in the eyes of the law. Your criminal record is much more like a continuum or a range of events that sum up your character. Unfortunately, this means that a DUI conviction in another country can affect how you are sentenced for future crimes in the United States.

If you are convicted of a crime in the United States, your sentence may be harsher because you have another crime on your record. Even though your DUI occurred outside of the country, it will still be a part of your criminal background. Therefore, you may be given a harsher sentence for another crime because you are a “repeat” offender.3

3.      You Can Be Barred From Entering Another Country

Countries can have strict requirements as to who they allow past their borders, even if it is just to visit. In 2013, Mike Tyson planned to visit the United Kingdom to promote his book. Unfortunately, in 2012 their immigration law changed to ban visitors into their country who had previously been sentenced to four years or more in prison.

In 1992, the former heavyweight champion boxer Tyson was convicted of rape. He was given a six-year prison sentence. As a result, he had to cancel his book promotion in the United Kingdom.4

Being convicted of DUI in a foreign country can have a similar impact on your ability to return. Various countries have different entry laws in order to ensure the safety of their citizens.5

4.      Expungement May Not Be an Option

Expungement is the critical legal process that allows past arrests and convictions for certain crimes to be erased from your record. In California, your crime can be expunged from your record if it satisfies certain requirements. For example, certain sex crimes against minors cannot be removed from your criminal record. You also must fully complete the terms of your probation in order to be eligible.

Other countries though, may not be so generous. The country in which you obtained your DUI may not allow convictions for this crime to be expunged. If that is the law of that country, the DUI will forever be on your record, and there may be nothing you can do about it.6

Let the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Help You Today

If you are convicted of DUI in another country, it will follow you back home to California. The conviction will show up on your record and it will affect your livelihood, much like a DUI conviction from a California court would. However, it can also affect your immigration status and other crucial components of your life. This is why it is imperative to have an experienced attorney help you avoid some of these consequences. Our team of attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully helping clients with DUI allegations and convictions from other countries for over 30 years.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, one of our attorneys is available to help you no matter where you live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/16/chris-pine-drunken-driving_n_4976789.html

2. http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2014/03/what-happens-after-a-dui-in-a-foreign-country.html

3. Id.

4. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/10/mike-tyson-banned-uk-rape-conviction

5. Id.

6. Id.

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