How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?
Circumstances in your life led to an encounter with law enforcement, which ultimately resulted in you receiving a DUI. While sorting out the financial impact of such a charge, you also wonder how long you can expect your conviction to linger around you like smoke. The time that a DUI remains on a driving record varies from state to state. But, you can expect to have to wait between 5 and 10 years before the legal system no longer considers the blemish in a subsequent case. That said, in certain states, DUIs remain on a driver’s record for life.
What Other Facts Should You Know About DUIs and State Driving Records?
Because states handle DUIs differently, having additional information beyond how long a charge remains on your record helps you understand the ripple effects of a DUI. For instance, besides having a DUI show up on your driving record, the infraction adds points to your driving record. With enough points, the DMV may suspend your driver’s license. When the time comes to renew your auto insurance policy, expect your provider to check your driver’s license points. The more points you have, the higher your premiums may be.
Like the length of time a DUI remains on your record, the number of points varies from state to state. Some states have a specific number of years that points remain on a record. But, others subtract points every year that a driver does not have a violation. Some jurisdictions punish DUIs with points on people’s licenses. However, others hit such drivers with harsher punishments, such as fines or an automatically suspended license.
DUIs show up on DMV driving records and state criminal records, sometimes even on employment records. Unlike driving records, DUIs remain on criminal records forever. Even so, it is possible to expunge the charge from a Record of Arrests and Prosecution sheet. Landlords, employers, scholastic admissions committees and the public can access a person’s RAP sheet and any DUIs that may appear on it.
What Is the DUI Look-Back Period?
A majority of states have a “washout” or “look-back” period for DUI convictions. States do not consider charges older than the washout period with new criminal charges. For example, if you live in a state with a 10-year look-back period and you received a DUI charge 13 years ago, authorities consider you a first offender if you are arrested again.
You may live in a state that does not have a washout period. This means your DUI remains on your criminal record and counts as a prior for the rest of your life. You could also live in a jurisdiction with multiple look-back periods: one period for deciding what counts as a second offense and another period for determining what constitutes a third or subsequent charge. Further, a state may determine look-back periods by conviction dates or the date of arrest.
Does a DUI Appear on Multiple State Driving Records?
If you live in Alabama and receive a DUI there before moving to Colorado, expect your DUI to follow you to your new state’s DMV. The same applies if you visit a state and get a DUI there before returning to your home state; local courts will see the out-of-state charge. All states take part in the Driver License Compact to share DUI charges across borders. As of this writing, states that do not participate in the program are Michigan, Georgia, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Tennessee. Even then, those states usually have an informal pact with other states to share driver’s license records.
Can You Clear Your Record of a DUI?
Touching back on expunging your record, in some states, you can clear a DUI from your criminal record so that it does not show up when employers or landlords run a background check. Even then, expunging your record is not easy. You must wait a specific period before you qualify for expungement, and you cannot receive subsequent criminal charges while waiting to qualify for expungement.
After the waiting period, you can submit an expungement application to the court, which includes a motion for relief and an affidavit. Judges, and possibly a District Attorney, look over the forms, and you may need a judge’s signature before submitting your request.
Expect to pay a transaction fee for your application, which varies between $100 and $400. Processing periods differ between states, depending on your case and the jurisdiction. Usually, applicants wait two weeks for a misdemeanor-level DUI and four weeks for a felony-level charge.
If granted an expungement, waiting for the court to officially wipe the DUI charge from its records is the next step. This usually takes two days, but it can take longer if federal agencies have any details about the DUI infraction. Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI may take 60 days to clear a charge and update their systems.
What Other Options Exist Besides DUI Expungement?
Not every expungement application receives approval. If the court denies your request, you can look into a DUI non-disclosure. With this option, you seal your criminal records from employers and other private agencies that commonly conduct background checks. Even then, a deeper criminal background check could turn up the conviction.
Depending on where you live, your state may only offer the non-disclosure option to first-time DUI offenders. Having a child in the vehicle with you at the time of your arrest could disqualify you for nondisclosure, as may having a blood alcohol content level of at least 0.15%. The circumstances of your DUI may prompt a judge to waive your probation, in which case you may not have the option to petition for nondisclosure.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
No matter how you remove a DUI from your record, do it with a lawyer’s experience and expertise. That way, you stand the most favorable chance of receiving approval for expungement or nondisclosure. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!