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How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

A DUI conviction in California may carry serious penalties, including potential jail time, fines, and a suspended license. Beyond these penalties, a DUI conviction will also show up on your criminal record. 

This can cause difficulties even after the terms of the sentence have been satisfied, because the conviction may show up on background checks for jobs, renting an apartment, and other procedures that require an overview of criminal records.

Fortunately, a DUI conviction does not necessarily need to stay on your criminal record forever in California. Many DUI convictions are eligible for expungement. In addition, a DUI conviction is usually removed from a driving record after ten years. 

If you are hoping to remove a DUI conviction from your criminal record, Santa Rosa DUI defense lawyer Amy Chapman may be able to help. Contact the Law Office of Amy Chapman today at (866) 238-0362 to learn more about removing a DUI from your criminal record in California.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Driving Record in California?

Once you are convicted of DUI in California, a record of that conviction will remain on your state driving record for ten years. This clock starts on the date of the arrest, not your conviction. There is no way to have this record removed in less than ten years.

This record can be viewed by the Department of Motor Vehicles, which may consider the conviction when making decisions on license suspensions, revocations, and reinstatements. 

Law enforcement can also see a DUI conviction on your driving record when they access the record during traffic stops.

Car insurance companies will be aware of the conviction and may use this information to modify your insurance policy. Serious driving infractions often cause premiums to increase.

The DMV’s record of your conviction will not show up on background checks, but the original conviction on your criminal record will on most checks for employment and professional licenses. 

How Long Will a DUI Remain on Your Criminal Record?

A DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record indefinitely unless you take legal measures to have the conviction removed through expungement. This applies to all degrees of DUI convictions, from felonies to misdemeanors. 

An expungement will remove the conviction from your record, providing you with a clean record (provided you have no other prior convictions). This will allow you to apply for jobs and answer “No” to application questions about criminal history. The conviction will not show up on criminal record background checks.

The DUI conviction will still be considered in the event that you are arrested on DUI charges again in the future. The penalties for subsequent DUIs are higher than first-time offenses in California and most other states. Expunged DUIs are still considered prior DUIs.

Expungement will not remove a DUI from your driving record. Fortunately, this will not affect background checks, but the DMV can still make decisions based on your conviction for ten years, even if the criminal record was expunged long before then.

Who Qualifies For DUI Expungement in California?

In California, anyone with a misdemeanor or felony conviction may apply for expungement as long as they meet the following circumstances:

  • They have successfully completed probation for the offense, and
  • Did not serve time in state prison for the offense, or 
  • Did serve state prison time but would have received a county jail sentence following the implementation of realignment under Proposition 47.

The majority of DUI convictions in California meet these requirements, as most are charged as misdemeanors that carry DUI penalties of probation or a term in county jail. However, a DUI may be charged as a felony if someone was injured or if the defendant has a prior felony DUI conviction or at least 3 prior DUI or wet reckless convictions in the past ten years.

The Expungement Process in California

An expungement allows you to petition the court to review your conviction, and you may withdraw your plea and enter a new “not guilty plea. Once you have determined that you are eligible for expungement, you must gather paperwork and file a petition. 

Obtain a Copy of Your Criminal Record

You will need to submit the following information from your criminal record when applying for expungement:

  • The court where you were convicted
  • Your name
  • Case number
  • Conviction date
  • The section number and code of violation
  • If you were on probation, you must state whether you were charged with any other offenses during your probation term

This information can be found in your court file with the California Judicial Branch or your Department of Justice “rap sheet.”

File an Expungement Petition and Fee Waiver Application

After you have gathered the required information, it’s time to fill out and file your expungement petition and either pay the fee or file fee waiver forms. Your petition must be filed in the county in which you were convicted.

To expunge a misdemeanor conviction, you must file a Petition to Dismiss a Misdemeanor PC 1203.4. In order to apply for a felony DUI expungement, you must first petition the court to reduce your charge to a misdemeanor and then file the same misdemeanor petition for dismissal.

Serve the Prosecutor

You should make two copies of your expungement petition – one for your own records and one to provide to the prosecuting attorney. California law requires applicants to provide the prosecuting attorney with at least 15 days’ notice before the judge considers the expungement petition.

You cannot serve this copy to the prosecuting attorney yourself – someone else must do so on your behalf. A copy of the petition must be hand-delivered or mailed to either the City or District Attorney in the county where you were convicted.

Call Santa Rosa DUI Defense Lawyer Amy Chapman to Learn More

While a criminal DUI conviction may technically be permanent, California law allows many individuals to seek a second chance through expungement. However, the process of having a DUI conviction dismissed can be complicated and legal guidance may be useful. To learn more about removing a DUI conviction from your record or other DUI matters, contact criminal defense lawyer Amy Chapman for a free consultation.

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Law Office of Amy Chapman

Santa Rosa Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Santa Rosa, CA 95404

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