California DUI: How Long Will a DUI Stay on My Record?

Generally speaking, in California, a DUI can remain on your driving record for 10 years, which starts on the date of your arrest. But a DUI can remain on your criminal record for much longer, and can sometimes be permanent. It can remain at least a certain period of time before you may have the ability to “clear” them for various purposes, such as expanding employment opportunities.

DUIs on Your Driving Record

A DUI in California stays on your driving record for 10 years and can be used by the DMV to make decisions regarding your driver's license, such as whether to suspend it or reinstate it.

In addition, you may also have "points" added to your driving record, which can affect your insurance premiums. When points add up for every infraction (speeding, DUI, etc.), your driver's license may be suspended.

Subsequent DUI Convictions & Enhanced Penalties

DUI convictions and their existence on one’s criminal record play an important role in cases where individuals with a prior conviction or prior convictions are charged with a new offense. That’s because multiple DUIs result in more severe penalties, including mandatory and increased terms of imprisonment, and in some cases felony charges, such as in the case of a fourth DUI.

In California, there is a 10-year “lookback” period, which means that for the purposes of subsequent charges and enhanced penalties, any DUI conviction within the past 10 years (and even similar convictions for an offense like “wet reckless”) can be considered a prior offense.

Expunging a DUI Conviction

Having a criminal record comes with consequences that can persist beyond serving one’s jail sentence, taking classes, paying fines, and completing probation. In cases of DUI, convictions can reduce or eliminate certain types of job prospects, in addition to having ancillary consequences involving a driving record or auto insurance. For those who have a DUI conviction, there may be some options for potentially clearing or “expunging” that criminal record, which means it would for most purposes be erased from public view (though it can still be accessed for certain reasons and by certain entities).

However, whether you have available options for obtaining an expungement depend on the facts involved, including the severity of the offense and whether or not it resulted in a state prison sentence (i.e. a felony DUI). Because of California’s 10-year lookback period, even an expunged DUI conviction can still be used for sentencing enhancements if it occurred within the past 10 years.

Generally, when seeking to expunge a DUI, the following is required:

  1. You must have completed probation;
  2. You must have not served time for the offense in a state prison, unless it would have been served in a county jail following the passing of Prop 47 (most DUIs in California meet this requirement);
  3. You file a petition to expunge the record, which will be closely evaluated by a judge;

Following the granting of an expungement:

  1. Any guilty or nolo contendere plea is changed to not guilty and the case is dismissed, or any trial verdict is set aside and the case is dismissed.
  2. You can legally state you have not been arrested or convicted of a crime in relation to an expunged offense.
  3. An expunged conviction does not automatically restore lost driving privileges.
  4. An expunged DUI conviction can be used in reference to penalty enhancements if it occurred within the past 10 years.

Ultimately, the answer to how long a DUI conviction will remain on your record is: it depends. If issues like employment are prompting you to consider taking action to expunge a conviction, having an experienced criminal defense attorney who handles these types of cases and issues in the local court system can be helpful to exploring your available rights and options.

Speak With an Experienced DUI Lawyer

Whether you are facing charges or have questions regarding expungement, our criminal defense lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can provide the insight and experienced counsel you need. Learn more about your rights and options, and what our award-winning defense team can do to help, by calling or contacting us online. We serve clients throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas of Southern California.