How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

First let me preface all of this by stating that I am of the belief that no matter what the law says, no matter what expungement is done for your record, and no matter how much time goes by, in this age of sophisticated computer searches, no matter of historical record can be completely erased.  Depending on how aggressive, competent, and interested, a sophisticated researcher can and will find out the truth.  The key is how to deal with that truth under varying circumstances.  I can help you navigate those difficult questions.

So you’ve been caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and now you’re facing a blemish on your criminal and driving records. The legal and extra-legal implications of a conviction are severe and ongoing. But will it last forever? How long does a DUI stay on your record?

A DUI conviction will show up on your driving record and your criminal record for varying lengths of time in California, depending on the legal or administrative action taken. In this article, we’re going to look at how long a DUI stays on your record and the implications this will have on your life during this time. We’ll also discuss where to find the best help to minimize the impact of a DUI on your permanent record.

Getting a DUI Off Your Record

The easiest way to have a DUI off your record is by not getting one on it in the first place. If you’re facing DUI charges, it’s critical to speak with a competent and experienced local DUI defense attorney who can represent you and defend your rights in court. Louis J. Goodman has been practicing criminal defense for over 30 years in California and can help you prepare a reliable defense in advance of your court date. Get in touch today for a free consultation.

DUI On Your Driving Record

A DUI conviction will be recorded on your California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) record. Luckily, it won’t stay on your DMV record forever. Law enforcement officers and the DMV can view the infraction on your record for ten years in California. After that, provided you have no further drunk driving convictions, it will no longer appear on your driving record.

A DUI conviction on your driving record often does not appear when employers or landlords conduct a background check. This means that these groups may not be able to access or use a conviction against you in the future.

You may have your driving permit revoked if you are charged with DUI

But that doesn’t necessarily mean DUI offenders are off the hook. The hefty consequences of DUI charges recorded on your driver’s license for the ten years following the DUI arrest include, but are not limited to the following.

Driving Record Consequences

The consequences of drunk driving may result in an offender losing their driving privileges, paying hefty fines, and being obliged to install an ignition interlock device that prevents them from driving if they have consumed alcohol.

DUI Points System

The California DMV employs a “points system” to monitor repeat driving offenses and risky behavior. Each driver starts with no points and may accumulate points on their license for engaging in dangerous driving tactics, such as exceeding the speed limit, driving drunk, or causing an accident or injury.

When a driver has collected a certain number of points, they will receive a license suspension or revocation. Most drivers who have their license revoked or suspended, end up in this situation after accumulating points for multiple small infractions rather than one large one. Therefore, offenses that seem trivial as a one-off may become a major headache if they are repeated.

What Implications do Points Have?

Receiving marks on your record against your conduct as a driver affects you in two ways. First, your license will be suspended if you have accumulated:

  • Four or more points in two years
  • Six or more points in three years
  • Eight or more points in four years

A DUI conviction is in the highest point category. Each infraction will incur two points on your record. These points stay visible for thirteen years, and there is no way to remove them during this timeframe or to shorten this period.

Additionally, the points system offers another consequence: the more points you have on your driving record, the higher premiums car insurance companies require you to pay.

Increased Car Insurance Premiums

A DUI will stay on your driving record for ten years in California. When the time comes to renew your auto insurance policy, your car insurance company will check your DMV record. You can expect to pay markedly higher car insurance rates if you have a DUI conviction. This increases with each conviction you receive. It’s also possible that your insurance company will drop you entirely, meaning that you will have to find another company to insure your vehicle.

What Can I Do if I Get Dropped?

If this is the case, you can shop around for other car insurance companies and compare quotes to secure reasonable protection. It’s also possible for high-risk drivers to look into nonstandard car insurance policies, although these tend to be more expensive.

I can refer you to insurance agents who specifically deal with DUI cases.

Finally, you can get a California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) where you can get coverage and liability insurance when you cannot access it elsewhere. These plans are the most costly and should be considered when other options haven’t worked.

Drivers License Revocation

If you are 21 years of age or above and have taken a chemical or urine test that resulted in a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above (or 0.04% if you are a commercial license holder) and this is your first offense, you will receive a license suspension of four months.

The officer will confiscate your license and give you an Order of Suspension and Temporary License. So long as you have a current California driver’s license and your license was not revoked for any other reason, the four-month suspension will take effect from 30 days after your DUI arrest.

If you are convicted of driving under the influence, the DMV will suspend your license for six or ten months. You may also be liable for fines, driver education programs, or other penalties in addition to your loss of driving privileges.

But, getting an IID installed, along with an SR-22 from your insurance company can restore your driving privilege very quickly with a first or second offense.

Installation of IIDs

The consequences of a DUI conviction are far-reaching

An ignition interlock device is a small implement that gets fitted into your vehicle and requires you to blow into a mouthpiece to test your breath alcohol content (BrAC) before starting the ignition. If the unit detects a BrAC above the level determined by the monitoring authority, it will prevent the engine from starting.

Under California law, a criminal judge must order the installation of a California IID in your vehicle for:

  • Four to six months for a first conviction
  • One year if you receive a second DUI conviction
  • Two years if you receive a third DUI conviction
  • Three years if you receive a fourth or subsequent conviction.

That being said, in Alameda County, the Court will rarely express much interest in whether you have actually installed the IID, leaving enforcement to DMV.

I can refer you to IID installers that will work with you and DMV to get you back on the road.

Can I Get a DUI Removed From My Driving Record?

Many states only hold DUIs on DMV records for five years. In California, you cannot get your DUI removed or sealed on your DMV record for 10 years following your conviction. Since your driving license suspension is an administrative consequence rather than a criminal consequence, you cannot have these records sealed or expunged.

This will affect your insurance premiums and your points for their respective periods. Once you have passed the ten-year timeframe, the conviction will no longer show up on your driving record and your insurance policy will return to normal (provided you have no further charges).

These records are used almost exclusively by the DMV (with the exception of insurance providers) and do not show up on your criminal background check. That said, if you are convicted of a DUI, the infraction will appear on your criminal record forever.

DUI On Your Criminal Record

A DUI is a criminal offense, and if you are prosecuted it will be permanently documented in your criminal record. You could be convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the incident.

This information will appear in your background checks when conducted by a potential employer or a landlord and may impact the professional and housing opportunities you are eligible for in the future. In California, there is a law that prohibits employers from discriminating against candidates by checking their criminal history before issuing a job offer. However, in many cases, the employer can add a contingency clause requiring a clear criminal history.

The implications of a DUI conviction can impact your life overall in a variety of ways, including your family and personal relationships, your public reputation, and of course, criminal penalties. Let’s explore those below.

An expungement of your criminal record can help. But as noted at the beginning of this article it has its limitations.  You should be aware of those limitations before engaging an attorney or spending any money on an expungement, and be wary of any attorney who does not explain these limitations to you.

Criminal Record Consequences

Aside from standard fines, driver education courses, and potential jail time that comes with a DUI conviction, a criminal record can affect your rights. The extent of restrictions in your life will likely depend on the severity of the incidence, whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, and your situation and support networks at the time of the incidence. Here are a few ways a criminal conviction may affect your life over the long term.

Fines

When you are convicted of drunk driving, you will receive court orders to pay fines and potentially victim restitution. The total value of the fines depends on whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony and whether your conviction is a first, second, third, or subsequent offense.

Usually, for a misdemeanor, offenders are required to pay between about $2000 in Alameda County. Fines for felonies may be higher. The financial impact this will have on an individual’s life will vary depending on their financial situation and family support.

Jail Time

It's common for DUI offenders to serve jail time

It is not common for first or second DUI offenders to serve jail time in Alameda County.

It is common for multiple repeat  DUI offenders to be sentenced to serve jail time. While maximum sentences are not always served, often an offender will be required to do a minimum jail term. Periods spent in county jail or prison can impact many areas of anyone’s life, including their family, social, and professional life.

For misdemeanor charges, the maximum time in county jail you are exposed to is usually a year, though the minimum sentence can be up to 180 days for serious repeat offenders. Depending on the circumstances, if you are charged with a felony you could spend between 16 months and 3  years in state prison. (More if death or serious injury results.)

Professional Implications

As we mentioned before, it is illegal for employers in California to discriminate against those with criminal records. Although, this does not prohibit them from adding contingency clauses into an offer of employment that may nullify the proposal in the presence of a criminal record.

Besides future employment, individuals with state licenses may have them revoked after having a criminal record. Moreover, those with professional driving licenses or who have to drive for their job may find it challenging to secure stable employment without a driver’s permit.

Personal Implications

Among the general havoc and emotional weight that can be experienced when you have a DUI conviction, there are a few additional personal circumstances that may be implicated after an offense.

A convicted parent may lose custody of their children, and in some cases, family and social relationships may become compromised. It’s common for law enforcement agencies to revoke your gun rights if you have been convicted of a felony in California. A misdemeanor will generally not result in loss of Second Amendment protection. Furthermore, your public reputation or social standing may be affected if you are prosecuted with a DUI.

Expunging a DUI From Your Criminal Record

A good lawyer can help you expunge your records

By now, you may be wondering how long a DUI stays on your record. In short, it will stay on your criminal record forever unless you go through the process of removing it. If you have already been convicted of a DUI, Louis J. Goodman may be able to help you have the offense removed from your criminal record, though it does depend on the circumstance surrounding the conviction.

According to California Penal Code 1203.4, you can file a motion to dismiss, which ultimately results in the case being dismissed from your record. Usually, you are eligible to have the infraction removed from your record provided you have:

  • Served the penalties, including probation
  • Not been in state prison (this doesn’t include county jail)
  • Not got any pending criminal charges

What Does Expungement Achieve?

Expungement or sealing your record prevents landlords and future employers from legally considering your conviction, even if it still appears on your record. This means you can check the “no criminal record” box in job applications. Be super careful about this.  It really depends on what sort of job you are applying for, and nothing that you read here or on any other website should be taken as legal advice for a specific situation.  Contact an attorney.

Government employers and individuals who seek or require government licenses may still be affected by their criminal record, even if the person has had the DUI expunged or sealed. The DUI will show up as a prior conviction on your record, meaning that if you face further DUI charges in a ten-year period, they will be prosecuted as a second offense.

How Do You Get Out Of a Criminal Record With a DUI Conviction?

The best way to ensure that you have a clean criminal record is to steer away from behavior classified as criminal. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who receive a DUI charge and do not realize that it leads to a criminal conviction.

Realistically, with the legal support of a diligent and experienced criminal defense attorney like Louis J. Goodman, you can form a strong defense and potentially avoid a DUI conviction altogether. Louis J. Goodman has been defending DUI charges for over 30 years in California and has a strong grasp on the laws and concepts that DUI defense cases are built around.

What Defense Can Be Used For DUI?

There is a range of defenses you can use for a DUI, and it’s important to discuss them with your lawyer as soon as possible. 

However, the more time you have to build your case, the more reliable it is likely to be. So, if you are facing a DUI charge, don’t wait. Get in touch with Louis J. Goodman for a free consultation to learn more about your case as early as possible.

Louis Goodman

Louis Goodman

Louis J. Goodman is a former Deputy District Attorney and experienced Alameda County Criminal Defense Lawyer, and can help you understand and exercise your Constitutional Rights.

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