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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in California? - Get Help from Goss Law!

Drunk driving is a common offense in America, but that doesn't mean it's not a serious one. Getting a DUI conviction can make someone's life way more challenging since financial institutions, employers, or insurance facilities won't trust that person anymore.

The best thing people can do to keep DUI convictions out of their criminal record is to never drive under the influence of any psychotropic substance. What happens if someone already has that conviction? How long does a DUI stay on a criminal or driving record in California? This page has all the answers!

Goss Law is available to help anyone looking forward to getting their DUI conviction out of their criminal record, and the only thing clients need to do is schedule a free consultation. For Sacramento DUI lawyers, contact Gross Law.

What Is a DUI?

What Is a DUI?

DUI stands for "driving under the influence," and it consists of driving under the influence of alcohol or other psychotropic substances that may alter the consumer's mental and physical capacities.

This doesn't mean everyone who takes a sip of a beer will get a DUI conviction since drivers need to have a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08% to be guilty of DUI charges, according to California law.

It's worth noting that the 0.08% limit only applies to people older than 21 years old driving regular motor vehicles. That limit goes down to 0.04% for people driving commercial drivers.

Since underaged people are not allowed to drink alcohol, the limit is 0.01% for them.

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

DUI charges will stay in a driver's criminal record forever unless they do something to get them out of it. Landlords, potential employers, financial institutions, and education facilities can check someone's criminal records whenever they want, which is the main concern of people who get a DUI conviction.

Drivers in California won't get a felony DUI conviction unless drunk driving causes an accident or any major problem. Unless that happens, the case will be treated as a misdemeanor.

What About Your Driving Record?

While a DUI conviction stays on a driver's criminal record indefinitely, it disappears from their driving record up to 10 years after the DUI conviction. It may seem like a lot of time, but it still gives that person the opportunity to stop dealing with the consequences of what they did after that time passes.

However, drivers can ask the DMV to review their DUI convictions during that time.

California DUI Conviction Penalties

Although most DUI convictions end up being misdemeanors, that doesn't mean their penalties are light. Depending on how many convictions drivers have had for drunk driving in the past, they could even go to state prison for 16 months.

These are the main penalties for a DUI conviction:

First Offense

Although most states sentence first offenders to lighter penalties, California law is a bit restrictive when someone gets a DUI conviction. The first thing offenders have to face when getting a conviction is a four-month suspension of their driver's license.

Apart from that, they can get six months of jail time with fines that could go up to $3,600. Even if they get out of jail, they have to attend mandatory DUI classes for three months and three to five years of DUI probation.

Second Offense

Things get worse when getting a California DUI for the second time. This time, the state can suspend the driver's license for two years and send them to jail for a year with a fine of $4,000.

Regardless of that, second offenders now have to go to DUI school for 18 or 30 months, which is way more than what they get for a first offense. However, the three-to-five-year of probation penalty stays the same.

While this doesn't happen in all cases, people with a second conviction on their criminal record may need to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.

Third Offense

If drivers get an offense for the third time, they will go to DUI school for 30 months and stay from three to five years on DUI probation. Additionally, they will go to jail for a year or get to state prison for 16 months with an $18,000 fine.

In this case, drivers will have a license suspension of three years.

How Can I Take a DUI Out of My Criminal Record?

As mentioned before, DUIs stay on the driver's criminal record unless they do something to take it out of it. The process to do this is not that difficult, but drivers need to hire a lawyer to help them with it and check if they are eligible for an expungement.

In a nutshell, drivers need to file an expungement petition to the court. What is an expungement? It consists of asking the court to destroy a misdemeanor on someone's criminal record. Expunging a conviction in someone's criminal history doesn't mean no one can see that conviction happened since government agencies can still do it.

Regardless of that, landlords, potential employers, or any other people asking for someone's criminal history for security purposes won't be able to see that conviction. Apart from that, drivers filing a form will be able to check the "No prior conviction" box.

It's worth noting that even if someone expunges a DUI from their criminal record, getting another DUI conviction still counts as a second conviction.

Expungement Eligibility Criteria

Not everyone is eligible to get their DUI expunged since people who served time in state prison have to keep their DUIs on their criminal record forever. Besides that, drivers have to complete all their probation time and take the DUI classes the court asked them to take before filing an expungement petition. Gross Law has more information on how to expunge a DUI in California.

Can I Take a DUI Out of My Driving Record?

How long does a DUI stay on a driving record? It can stay there for up to 10 years, but drivers can't expunge it.

Even if someone gets their DUI expunged, they can't do the same for their driving record. The only way to get a DUI out of a driving record is to wait 10 years after it gets out of it or ask the DMV to review it.

Who Can See My Criminal and Driving Record on Background Checks?

Who Can See My Criminal and Driving Record on Background Checks?

As mentioned before, one of the main issues of getting a DUI on a driver's criminal or driving record is that it makes it more difficult for people to get bank loans, get admitted to colleges or other educational institutions, or even get a job.

These are the main individuals who are able to check someone's driving record:

Potential Employers

No one wants to have someone dangerous working in their company, so employers background-check their potential employees before taking them to their team. While some business owners overlook things, such as a driving record stain, others won't take anyone with any kind of prior conviction.

Even if someone gets arrested for drunk driving but does not get a conviction, that arrest will appear on their driving record.

Is it unfair to lose job opportunities because law enforcement officers arrested someone who ended up being innocent? Maybe it is, but the best way to prevent this from happening is to either get a DUI expungement or never drive under the influence of alcohol.

However, it's easier for someone with just an arrest to get more opportunities than a driver with a conviction.

Financial Institutions

Whether it's to buy a house, a motor vehicle, or pay college tuition, it's common for Americans to ask for bank loans. The problem with doing it is that, even without a stain on the driver's criminal record, getting that loan is not easy at all.

However, it's almost impossible for someone to get a loan if the bank notices that person has a criminal conviction or arrest.


Even if someone gets the money to buy a house or manages to get a bank loan, not all landlords or realtors will want to sell a property to drivers with a drunk driving conviction. The same happens with neighbors who don't want their children walking close to someone who drives under the influence of alcohol.

However, these are just some cases where people get problems from having a conviction. Other entities, such as car insurance companies, won't always offer their services to offenders either.

Bottom Line - Hire a DUI Lawyer from Goss Law!

Regardless of how long a DUI stays on someone's record, the truth is that it's difficult to go on with life with that kind of conviction under a driver's belt. Hence, people with one need to file an expungement petition as soon as they can.

How can people do that? They need to file a decent lawyer to help them with it. The Goss Law Firm works with some of the most experienced, qualified, and kind attorneys in California, and they will do everything in their hands to get their clients' records expunged.

Don't hesitate, call today!


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