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

Nov 15, Law Office of Conor Bell

The ability to drive from one place to another on your own time is a privilege that many take for granted. Grabbing our keys as we walk out the door instead of checking bus schedules or scheduling a rideshare is much more convenient. However, when we take advantage of that privilege and make decisions that put ourselves and others at risk while we are behind the wheel, it can have lasting impacts on our freedoms on the road.

A DUI in California is a serious criminal charge that could bring severe penalties. While you may not spend years in prison, you could be affected by a conviction for a lifetime. Criminal DUI offenses become a part of your record that will be seen by employers, landlords, or anyone else that performs a background check. This could have lasting impacts on your finances and relationships. It could even play a role in any child custody case.

The Severity of a DUI Conviction

Like other states, California has a clear stance on DUIs. Do not drink and drive. Any alcohol content higher than 0.08 percent is against the law, according to California Vehicle Code 23152 (B). For commercial drivers, your alcohol content may not be above 0.04 percent. And if you are under the age of 21, the legal drinking age, you may not exceed 0.01 percent.

Unlike other states, however, California has some of the toughest laws on DUI charges. A first-time offense, for example, could cost you up to $1000, a four-month suspension on your license, a potential jail time of 6 months, and even mandatory attendance in DUI classes.

If you are convicted of additional DUI charges, each of these penalties becomes more severe, with longer sentences and suspensions, heftier fines, and more extensive courses. Fortunately, there are avenues available to have a DUI sealed or removed from your record.

Your Record and DUI Charges

Your criminal background becomes a part of your story. On background checks for employment, housing, and other societal privileges, your record can have a huge impact on many areas of your life. However, depending on the circumstances of your conviction, your criminal defense attorney may be able to help clear your record.

California allows those convicted of a DUI to file a motion to dismiss, or expungement. If approved, this dismisses the charges. While they may still appear on your record, an expungement or sealing of the charges means they cannot be legally considered by employers or landlords as grounds for refusal. In addition, you will be able to mark “no criminal record” (if the DUI was your only charge) on applications.

The charge could still have an impact if you are convicted of an additional DUI charge within 10 years. Even with an expungement, additional charges add up.

To meet the eligibility requirements for expungement, you must meet certain parameters, including:

  • Completion of any probation.
  • Your penalty may not include time in state prison.

Both felonies and misdemeanors that meet these conditions are eligible for expungement, but it is at the discretion of the court.

DUI charges are frequently the result of a lapse in judgment. They are often a mistake that serves as a wake-up call for most people, who will use the arrest as an opportunity to make a better decision the next time. However, driving under the influence puts you, your passengers, and others at significant risk of injury or death, which is why it is taken so seriously.

Removal From Your Record

While your criminal record can be helped, your driving record may not be so lucky. Because suspension of your license is a noncriminal penalty (it is administrative), it is not possible to have a suspension expunged from your driving record. For a period of 10 years, both the DMV and law enforcement will be able to view the DUI on your record.


Q: Does a DUI Come Off Your Record After 10 Years in California?

A: It is possible to have your criminal convictions sealed or expunged. For an expungement to be granted, they must meet certain criteria for both misdemeanors and felonies within 10 years of the conviction. However, there is no way to have it removed from your driving record for a minimum of 10 years.

Q: How Long Do You Have to Wait to Get a DUI Expunged in California?

A: To have your DUI expunged from your record, you must meet two requirements before you can file a motion with the court. You must have completed any assigned probation, and your conviction must not have included any time in state prison. Beyond these parameters, there is no other waiting period.

Q: How Do You Get a DUI Off Your Record in California?

A: There is no way to have the DUI removed from your driving record for a minimum of 10 years. Your DUI can be expunged or sealed by filing a motion through your attorney with the court. You must, however, have completed any terms of probation, and your conviction may not include any prison time.

Q: Can a Lawyer Help You Get a DUI Removed From Your Driving Record in California?

A: Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand the options you have based on the charges and penalties you face. They can also guide you through the legal processes involved. In short, an attorney can help you by preparing and filing motions with the court on your behalf for the expungement or sealing of your record.

DUI Defense Attorney

Facing any type of DUI charges or convictions can cause you to carry a heavy burden in other areas of your life. Beyond fines, potential prison time, suspension of your license, and mandatory classes, you could face challenges obtaining employment or housing as a result. If you are facing DUI charges or are looking to have your charges expunged from your criminal record, you should trust an expert criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Office of Conor Bell. Our team has the knowledge and experience to help you navigate your DUI charges. Contact our office today.