​How Long Do Alcohol-Related Offenses Appear on Your Driving Record?

Published On: November 10, 2022By

You can face many consequences after a DUI conviction, and one that people often overlook is the impact on your driving record. A DUI or DWI can stay on your record for five to ten years in most states. Some states will require the DUI to remain on a driving record permanently.

In addition, you will have many legal consequences to contend with and other problems that are not apparent initially. You can face an increase in insurance rates, issues getting and maintaining employment, and SR-22 filing requirements for several years. You always need to seek help from a DUI defense lawyer who can help you avoid a conviction and associated consequences whenever possible.

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How do states determine how long your DUI will stay on your record?

​How Long Do Alcohol-Related Offenses Appear on Your Driving Record?Every state handles DUI charges differently, but they use some of the same factors to determine how it will affect your driving and criminal record. Most state DMVs will use a point system to keep track of your traffic violations, and when you reach a certain number of driving points, you will face a license suspension.

Your driving record is critical because insurance companies will pull it to determine the rate for your insurance policy. You will have to pay a higher insurance rate if you have points on your license. Additionally, accidents and other traffic infractions will also affect your insurance rates. Having a clean driving record is essential so you do not have to suffer long-term. You will need to work with a DUI lawyer in your state to avoid these charges.

There are two outcomes you can face depending on where you live. While some states use a point system for DUIs, others opt for different penalties. Some states will suspend your license or make you pay fines. For example, California uses the second system, which will suspend your license after a DUI and require you to attend different courses and seminars; you can even face jail time for a DUI in California.

For states that use a point system for DUIs, the number of points and length of time they stay on your record will vary. Even when a state uses a point system, the way they remove points will vary. While in some cases, they will remove points after a certain period, other times, they will remove a specific number of points each year until there are no points. Each point system is complex, and you will need to work with a local DUI defense lawyer to get a clear picture of how your record will change.

Examples of DUI Point Systems

Here are how different states handle points and how long they stay on a person’s driving record, specifically for DUI cases:

  • Alaska – 10 points for life
  • Arkansas – 14 points for five years
  • California – Two points for 10 years
  • Delaware – extra penalties for five years
  • Florida – additional penalties for 75 years
  • Georgia – additional penalties for 10 years

There are many other states and point systems, so it is best to consult a DUI defense lawyer who can explain how the point system works near you or the penalties you can face for a DUI arrest and conviction.

DUIs and Driving Records

Your driving record shows insurance companies how responsible you are on the road, and when you have infractions and DUI convictions, insurance companies will not hold you in high regard. They will likely have you pay more to insure your vehicle. You are now a high-risk driver, and the insurance company wants to save money. When they insure a high-risk driver, they are taking a chance that they will need to pay out a claim due to their driving habits. Low-risk drivers will get lower rates.

The insurance company will consider the last three to five years when determining your issuance rate. So if you have points on your record, your insurance rate will continue to increase until they fall off. If you continue to get points on your record, the insurance company can cancel your policy altogether, leaving you in more trouble than before.

Aside from your insurance rates, your driving record can also affect your employment opportunities. Commercial drivers are at the highest risk of suffering employment consequences for having a DUI or other points on their record. To get a commercial driving license, you must have a clean driving record. Different career paths will require you to have a clean driving record so move quickly to ensure you do not get a DUI conviction on your record.

While some states will require you to reach a certain number of points before they suspend your license, California will automatically suspend your license after a DUI, contingent on specific requirements. A driver’s license suspension can last anywhere from six months to two or three years. When you have a license suspension, you will be unable to get around easily and cannot go about your regular schedule. You will need to find alternative transportation, which can become very costly.

After a license suspension, you will need to submit an SR-22 or FR-44, depending on where you live. The SR-22 is a financial responsibility form that shows you have the state minimum of insurance. It must last for at least three years. You will have various fees during the reinstatement process. First, you will need to pay the insurance company for giving you the form, the DMV for filing the paper, and the DMV for reinstating your license. It is a very costly process that is burdensome for anyone.

Do DUIs in other states count?

A DUI from another state can show up on your record in the state where you have your license. States often report this information to one another. While not all states do this, the majority do, so you should always be under the assumption that it will. If you move out of state, it will depend on the individual laws of each state as to whether the DUI conviction will follow you. Nearly every state is part of the driver’s license compact, which collects data on DUIs.

Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin did not join the Driver’s License Compact, but they have agreements with other states to provide and exchange driver information. The best way to avoid a DUI following you is to avoid getting a conviction with help from a DUI defense lawyer.

Is it possible to delete a DUI from a driving record?

While it is best to avoid getting a DUI on your record, there are ways to remove it once it is already there. DUI laws are very complex and vary by state, so it is vital to have a lawyer on your side. You will have fewer chances of beating a DUI without legal help. Research shows when a person has a DUI defense lawyer in their corner, they are three times more likely to get a reduction in their DUI charge.

Your DUI will appear in two places: on your criminal record and driving record. Removing it from one does not remove it from the other. A criminal defense lawyer can work to remove or expunge a DUI from your criminal record. However, you will need to wait it out in most cases when it comes to your driving record. Depending on the state, the amount of time you will need to wait will vary. Even so, you must speak with a lawyer to avoid long-term consequences and give you a clear picture of what to expect.

DUIs as prior convictions

As time goes on, DUIs will begin to wash out or fade. That means they will hold less weight than when they did initially. When you face a subsequent DUI charge, it will bear additional consequences due to the prior conviction. However, if the first offense is already off your record, a subsequent conviction will be handled as a first offense.

California has a ten-year washout period, while Washington has a seven-year washout. Other states have five years. For states that do not have washout periods, every subsequent offense will count against you. In Alaska, a DUI will stay on your record for life, so you can continue to rack up violations and face harsher penalties for each offense.

Being aware of prior convictions is essential because it can make the penalties steeper the more convictions you have. Also, remember, a charge and a conviction are different. You can face a DUI charge and not a conviction. A conviction will count against you; a charge does not go on your record. A first DUI offense has steep penalties, but they are more manageable, and the charge is often easier to fight. The legal process can become much trickier when you have a second, third, or fourth DUI.

A prime example is the first offense does not result in jail time, but a second or third conviction will. You can check your driving record periodically with the DMV. You should also keep track of your criminal record by requesting it from the DOL.

How long does a DUI stay on a criminal record?

Your criminal record works differently than your driving record. DUIs are unique because they are not just traffic violations but also criminal offenses; when you have a DUI criminal conviction, they will stay on your record unless you seek expungement. All states have varying expungement processes, and it is essential to consult your lawyer regarding the process.

For example, in California, you can get a DUI expungement if you:

  • Complete DUI probation
  • Did not serve any jail time
  • Served time in a state prison which would have been a county jail under Proposition 47

You will need to finish your probation period to begin the expungement process. You will have several options, the first being you can file a petition with the court to seal or expunge the record. While it sounds simple, it is a very complex legal process. If you plead guilty or no contest, you can withdraw your plea and enter a not-guilty plea. You can only do this after you go to trial. The judge can dismiss the case in both instances, and these processes apply to felony and misdemeanor charges. Remember that a serious DUI offense may be ineligible for expungement, so do not attempt to take the process on without consulting a local DUI attorney.

Can a DUI lawyer help you avoid a DUI charge?

The best way to avoid a criminal record is to avoid having a DUI conviction on your record. There are several legal complexities when it comes to these types of cases. Many drivers believe a DUI is only a traffic infraction and will have no impact on their criminal record.

Due to this misunderstanding, many drivers do not fight DUI charges; they accept them and attempt to move on from the incident. It is not until the conviction hinders their growth that they begin to regret not fighting the DUI. Hiring a local criminal defense lawyer scares some people because they do not think they are criminals. The law says otherwise.

The state prosecutor will attempt to collect substantial evidence to build a case against you, but when you have a local criminal defense lawyer on your side, they will also work to make a solid case in your defense.

Defenses available for DUI cases may include:

  • Constitutional rights violation
  • Incorrect testing procedures
  • The Breathalyzer operator did not calibrate the device correctly
  • Lack of probable cause
  • A medical condition resulting in a high BAC
  • Unreliable field sobriety test
  • Another reason for your bad driving
  • Being within the margin of error for a chemical test
  • Rising blood alcohol
  • Unlawful arrest

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