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How Long Will a DUI Conviction Stay on My Driving and Criminal Records?



A driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can have long-term significant impacts on a person’s life. Everything from employment and rental applications to auto insurance and background checks can be impacted by a criminal conviction on a defendant’s driving record. DUI laws differ from state to state, but a DUI conviction will likely remain on the driving record of a defendant for a minimum of five years.

Prior DUI Convictions Can Be Used for Sentencing

In the majority of states, a prior conviction for a DUI offense can impact an offender’s sentencing for later offenses. There is no time limit to how far the review may go into a defendant’s driving record for sentencing purposes. DUI convictions 20 years old or older are not considered stale during the sentencing phase.

Can a DUI Remain on a Driving Record Forever?

Some people incorrectly assume that a DUI conviction will automatically be removed from a defendant’s driving record after a certain period of time elapses. Although many states have laws that retain a DUI conviction on a defendant’s driving record only for a set number of years, it is still possible to have a conviction on your criminal record forever. For this reason, most criminal defense and DUI defense attorneys advise clients to check their driving records periodically to ascertain whether old DUI convictions remain, in much the same way consumer and commercial attorneys advise clients to monitor credit reports.

Expungement Procedure

The expungement procedure is available for the removal of items like prior DUI convictions from driving records. These laws are state-specific. The expungement process begins by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) where the defendant resides. Each DMV will have a defined procedure for how to remove a prior DUI conviction from a driving record. This process can be done pro se (without counsel), but because it is often tedious, frustrating, slow-moving, and complicated, some parties choose to retain counsel for this purpose. The expungement procedure is performed regularly by DUI defense counsel in many jurisdictions when it is available and appropriate for a particular client.

Sometimes Drivers Can Play a Waiting Game

In some instances, a driver’s DMV record is less damaging the more years that have elapsed since the offense. For example, in most employment applications, an applicant’s driving record is sought for the three prior years. A DUI conviction that falls outside of that period may not have to be disclosed if the application contains no other questions about convictions. Regularly obtaining and reviewing your driving record is advisable to keep tabs on potentially damaging information that may be disclosed and/or reviewed by third parties.