No matter the specifics of the charge, there are harsh, immediate penalties for individuals convicted of a DUI in California. Not only do you have the direct effects of a DUI conviction, but you will carry the charge on your record for many years to come.
If left unhandled, a DUI conviction is on your criminal record permanently and on your driving record for ten years. The DUI conviction can affect your ability to get a job, affordable insurance, or an apartment. It will also affect how you get treated in future DUI cases.
DUIs on Your Driving Record
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) keeps a record of your DUI offenses for ten years. Rather than counting from the date of conviction, the DMV tracks DUI history starting from the date of the arrest. This ten-year time frame is set in stone and cannot be adjusted.
Fortunately, the impact of a DUI on your driving record is relatively limited. Your driving record is used primarily by the DMV to make decisions regarding your license’s status, such as suspensions or revocations. Insurance companies can also use it to determine rates, which is likely to be the most direct way a DUI on your driving record will impact your life.
DUIs on Your Criminal Record
A DUI in California is not a simple traffic violation. Instead, a DUI conviction gets treated as either a misdemeanor or a felony criminal conviction. As such, it enters your criminal record permanently. This is what employers, colleges, and even landlords will see when doing a background check on you.
DUIs are also “priorable” offenses. A “priorable” offense in California is any offense in which previous convictions for the same crime will result in harsher penalties. For example, a second DUI will have harsher penalties than a first DUI, and a third DUI conviction will have an even harsher penalty.
Even if it is still on your record, a DUI outside of the ten-year timeframe will not usually count against you for the increased penalty for repeat offenses. The most significant exception to this rule is a prior felony DUI conviction, making any subsequent DUI a felony charge, even if it would otherwise get charged as a misdemeanor.
A DUI Can Damage Your Life
As stated previously, a DUI is a criminal conviction. This means that you will have your DUI show up on your criminal record. This can damage your life in several ways:
- Preventing you from obtaining any licenses or certifications.
- Negatively impacting you for college admissions.
- Having to disclose your DUI conviction to future employers.
- Losing your job if it requires a driver’s license.
- Increased insurance premiums.
Dealing with a DUI conviction on your record can be extremely stressful. The best way to solve it is to get it expunged as soon as possible.
DUI “Points” on Your Driver’s License
California driver’s licenses use a “point” system to track risky behavior. All drivers start with 0 points but may acquire points for certain infractions – like speeding, DUI, or causing an accident.
Points hurt you in two ways. For one thing, they affect your insurance rates. More points mean higher car insurance bills. Additionally, they can cost you your license. Your license will get suspended if:
- You get four or more points in two years
- You get six or more points in three years
- You get eight or more points in four years
DUI’s are in the highest point category. Each DUI adds two points to your license. Obviously, the sooner those points go away, the better off you are. Unfortunately, DUI points also take the longest to get off your license. Points from a DUI stay on for 13 years. There is no way to shorten this period.
But you can reduce your total points in other ways. Points from traffic tickets, for example, can sometimes be removed if you agree to go to traffic school. You can look up DMV-approved traffic schools here.
Expunging Your Criminal Record is Possible
A DUI conviction left uncontested will remain on your criminal record permanently, but it doesn’t have to be left unchallenged. If you meet specific criteria, you may petition to have the charge expunged from your criminal record. The criteria include:
- Paying any fines associated with the conviction
- Completing probation
- Remaining free from any criminal convictions, not just other DUIs
An expungement in accordance with California Penal Code § 1203.4 will remove the DUI conviction from your criminal record. If your conviction gets expunged and another party discriminates against you because of the expunged conviction, you may be able to take legal action to remedy the situation.
Expunging Isn’t Automatic
While you must meet certain criteria, expunging your record isn’t given automatically. When you seek to have your record expunged, you must petition the court.
The judge has the discretion to grant the expungement, and the prosecutor may challenge the petition. A DUI lawyer can help you file your petition and can represent you for any hearings that may be ordered for the expungement.
Don’t Let a DUI Conviction Happen
People often wonder what’s the best way to avoid a DUI on their criminal record. Of course, the best way is not to get convicted at all. With the assistance of a Los Angeles DUI attorney, you can stop a DUI from getting on your criminal record in the first place by fighting for your case.
A DUI attorney can help you win through various arguments:
- Proving that the arresting officers didn’t administer tests properly.
- Evidence was collected improperly.
- Your constitutional rights were violated.
- A medical condition caused your high blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
- Proving you weren’t the one operating the vehicle at the time of the arrest.
While the option to expunge your conviction is always there, it’s still best to fight back with a lawyer by your side.
Get Your DUI Off Your Record Today
Given the ability of a DUI conviction to stop you from getting a job, an apartment, or even college admission, there are clear benefits to expunging your criminal records. If you’re having trouble knowing where to begin, it’s best to reach out to an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.