A DUI can stay on your DMV record for many years and permanently on your criminal record if left uncontested.
No matter the specifics of the charge, there are harsh and 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. A 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) records 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 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 for which you have previous convictions for the same crime and it results 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 sentence.
Even if it is still on your record, a DUI outside 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 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.
Can You Shorten the Amount of Time Points Stay on Your Record?
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.
However, 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 a DMV-approved traffic school.
Expunging Your Criminal Record Is Possible
A DUI conviction left uncontested will remain on your criminal record permanently, but it does not have to be left unchallenged. If you meet specific criteria, you may petition to have the charge expunged from your criminal record. The requirements include the following:
- 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 is 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 Is Not Automatic
While you must meet certain criteria, expunging your record is not 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 represent you for any hearings that may be ordered for the expungement.
Who Qualifies for Expungement in California?
Not every person convicted of a DUI will be eligible for record expungement. Under California Penal Code 1203.4 PC, misdemeanor DUI convictions could be expunged as long as you have meet the necessary conditions. These include completing the terms of your probation, not being currently on probation, and not currently facing criminal charges at the misdemeanor or felony level.
Who Does Not Qualify for an Expunction after a DUI?
You may not be eligible to expunge your DUI charges or conviction if you spent time in prison for the offense unless a new conviction would result in jail time. Under California expungement laws, you cannot clear your record unless you complete the conditions of your probation, where applicable. If you violated the terms of your probation at any time and subsequently had your probation revoked, you may not be eligible for expungement.
However, ultimately, it is up to the California criminal court’s discretion to decide whether to grant or reject an expungement petition under California Penal Code 1203.4. Some factors the court system may take into account include:
- Your criminal record
- Evidence in support of expungement
- Your performance on probation
- Whether you are gainfully employed
- Whether you have your family’s support
- Whether you have strong ties to the community
Do Not Let a DUI Conviction Happen
People often wonder what is 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.
- Showing that evidence was collected improperly.
- Demonstrating how your constitutional rights were violated.
- Giving proof of a medical condition that 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 is 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 are having trouble knowing where to begin, it is best to contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney by phone or through our secured contact form as soon as possible.