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How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

DUI Drink Gavel Keys
By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on November 28, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

DUIs are problematic, and affect so many facets of life. Once you've dealt with the legal ramifications, including the penalties, you may think it's all behind you and look forward to a fresh start. But when does that freshness start? That depends on where you live.

DUIs end up on all sorts of records, such as your driving record with the DMV, your criminal record with the state, and maybe even your employment record with your employer. It's in your best interest to know how long a DUI stays on your record and what you can, and can't, do about it.

DUIs and the DMV

A DUI will stay on your DMV driving record for 10 years in California. Only law enforcement and the DMV can see this record, and so although 10 years is a long time, at least the list of those that can see this is short. The DMV generally only views this file to decide whether to suspend your license, based on their "point" system. Though the point system isn't exactly a "record," know that the two points you get for a DUI in California stays in the system for 13 years. There is nothing you can do to shorten these times with the DMV.

DUIs and the Criminal Justice System

The criminal justice system keeps crimes on file forever. But some crimes are different than others, and DUIs are one of those such crimes. There are stiffer penalties for repeat offenders that have had a DUI within the last ten years from the date of arrest. There is nothing you can do to shorten this term, even if you successfully get the DUI expunged from your record.

Though a DUI stays on your criminal record forever, you may be able to get it expunged, which means removing the conviction from your RAP (Record of Arrests and Prosecution) sheet. This is important because it is the one record that others can view, including employers, landlords, scholastic admissions committees, and even friends and family. Each state has different DUI expungement laws, but often, you can try to have your DUI expunged from your criminal record if you:

  • Served all penalties imposed, including probation
  • Did not have to serve time in a state prison
  • Are not currently facing other criminal charges

If you are interested in expunging a DUI from your criminal record, you can try to do it yourself without a lawyer, or you can contact a local criminal defense attorney. A legal adviser has great experience navigating the criminal justice system, and may be able to expunge your record quickly and efficiently, with minimal inconvenience to you. After all, expunging may not be your best DIY project.

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