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

Last Modified: August 11, 2023
April 7, 2022 | Rabin Nabizadeh | DUI

how-long-does-a-dui-stay-on-your-record-in-californiaDUI cases may stay on your criminal record forever. The United States sees DUI as a serious traffic crime punishable with grave penalties.

Fighting your way through a DUI case is a challenging task. But, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. There are legal options available for you, depending on the nature of your DUI. You need a reliable criminal defense attorney to assist you with your case.

This blog will explore how long a DUI stays on your criminal record in California and whether or not you can delete it in your documents.


how-serious-are-california-dui-convictionA California DUI conviction is charged as a misdemeanor offense in most cases. However, there are instances when the court assigns a DUI violator with a felony DUI.

A felony DUI is given if the driver injured another person, they have an existing criminal offense, or the driver has a subsequent DUI conviction.

There are two statutes under California law discussing DUI conviction. These statutes are Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b).

23152(a) VC makes it illegal to drive under the influence of illicit drugs and alcohol. According to this law, it is unlawful to operate a vehicle if you are mentally and visually impaired to the extent that you can no longer drive safely.

On the other hand, 23152(b) states that driving is illegal if you possess a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or more. Regardless of whether you are impaired, the law states that you could still receive a conviction if a breath or blood test resulted in a 0.08% or greater.

Violation of 23152(a) VC and 23152 (b) is a misdemeanor. However, the court can charge you with a felony upon the fourth offense. Moreover, violators can also receive these punishments:

  • $390-$1000 penalty fines;
  • Six months to one year of state imprisonment; and
  • Six months to three years of driver’s license suspension.

The court increases the violator’s punishment as he repeatedly violates these laws. The court will conduct a 10-year look back to check for previous DUI convictions.


how-long-will-a-dui-conviction-stay-on-your-recordA DUI conviction remains in your driving record for ten years. During these ten years, you cannot initiate an expungement process. The 10-year count will only start once the defendant is arrested, not when they are convicted.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can access this record. They will use this record to decide on license suspension, revocation, or reinstatements.

Aside from the DMV, other law enforcement officers can also view your DUI charges when they pull up your records.

In addition, insurance companies can also access your records and see your DUI conviction. Since these are grave motor vehicle violations, your insurance company may increase your premiums.


can-you-remove-dui-from-your-recordYour record of DUI arrests will last on your driving record for ten years. Unfortunately, there is no known way to drop this arrest from your driving record.

Expungement, the process of removing a criminal record, applies only to your criminal record. It is not possible to initiate an expungement request for your driving record.

Although these two records may sound similar, they are unique from one another. A criminal record is a record kept by the state government. On the other hand, a driving record is owned by the DMV.

Even if you expunge your criminal record, it doesn’t make your case disappear from your driving record.

On a positive note, your driving record is not a requirement when applying for jobs. Potential employers may not be able to see your DUI arrest in this manner.

Once the ten-year period ends, your DUI arrest will drop off your record. However, dropping off doesn’t necessarily mean that your arrest record disappears. The DMV will create an exclusive copy of this record for future purposes.

If you believe that the DMV possesses an inaccurate driving history record, you can request a correction. The DMV may order you to collect proof, documentation, and forms to submit in line with your request.


how-long-does-a-dui-stay-on-your-criminal-recordA DUI arrest history will stay on your record for only ten years in your driving record. On the other hand, it will remain permanently on your criminal record. DUI convictions are criminal charges in California.

However, you can have a DUI expunged from your criminal record once you complete your DUI probation period. You can only pursue this legal action if you are not sentenced to jail time or imprisonment.

When you expunge your DUI criminal record, the court exempts you from any consequences brought by the arrest. Once your request is successful, even the court cannot access your history.

However, expungement is different from sealing. When you “seal” your criminal record, the public cannot access your record. Unlike expungement, sealing a record still allows the court to access your criminal record.

Depending on the severity of your DUI case, the court may not approve your expungement request but approve your record for sealing.

It’s best to confer with a criminal defense lawyer on this matter. They can help you identify the best way to proceed with your case when pursuing expungement.


can-you-expunge-a-dui-from-your-criminal-recordCalifornia Penal Code Penal Code 1203.4 PC provides the right of a defendant to enter a not guilty plea. When the court approves a not-guilty plea, they will delete the DUI from the defendant’s criminal record.

However, DUI expungement will not affect your DMV record. In California, there are specific requirements a defendant needs to meet to initiate a DUI expungement from their criminal record.

  • First, the defendant must have completed their probation period;
  • Second, the defendant cannot be sentenced to jail time or imprisonment;
  • Third, the defendant must not have a history as a sex offender.

If the person meets these requirements, the court may allow them to request and erase the DUI from their criminal record. However, this does not mean that the DMV will remove the DUI from their history.

A defendant may pursue expungement for misdemeanor and felony cases. But, there’s a slim chance of expungement with felony cases. A DUI lawyer can help you determine if expungement or sealing is appropriate for your case.

The court looks at certain factors in approving an expungement request. Here are some of the most commonly weighed factors in a court decision:

  • The defendant’s compliance with the court’s order during the probation period;
  • The severity of the DUI case at hand;
  • The defendant’s history of criminal offenses;
  • Proof that the defendant deserves the expungement.

Similar to every other criminal case, exemptions also exist in DUI cases. It would be best if you spoke about this with your lawyer. They can help you understand and determine if your case fits other exemptions for the case.


dui-conviction-background-checkA DUI conviction often shows up on a criminal background check in California. The conviction will also show up on a driving record check.

It is best to disclose your DUI conviction to your potential employer if you seek employment. Some employers may see the conviction as a red flag and may not hire you.

However, some employers may not mind the conviction and may still hire you. It is best to be straightforward about your DUI conviction with a potential employer.

You can also try to expunge your DUI conviction from your criminal record. Once you have accomplished your probation period, you can request that the court delete your DUI from your criminal record.

If the court denies your expungement request, alternative options such as sealing may be available. Potential employers may not be able to view your DUI convictions, but the court can still access your files.

It is best to talk to a lawyer about your case. A DUI conviction can have long-lasting effects on your life. You would want to do everything to clear your name and not jeopardize opportunities.


dui-points-on-your-drivers-licenseIf you are arrested for a drunk driving case, the DMV has the right to suspend your license. Depending on the degree of your case, they may also revoke your driver’s license.

The DMV point system is a way for the department to track DUI convicted drivers. The DMV will give you points when you are convicted or arrested for a DUI. These points will determine the instances you committed a traffic violation.

Some violations can give you one point, but others can give two points. The more points you garner, the more likely you will lose your driver’s license.

The California DMV may suspend or revoke your license if you meet the following point requirement:

  • Accumulated 4 points within the span of 12 months;
  • Accumulated 6 points within the span of 24 months;
  • Accumulated 8 points within the span of 36 months.

Having one previous DUI conviction already gives you two points. Most serious traffic violations also equate to two points. Points earned from these offenses will stay on your record for ten years.

Furthermore, failure to attend a court appearance for DUI will add another ten years of points retention. In contrast, minor traffic violations equate to a single point. A one-point violation usually clears up after 36 months.

Other than putting your license at risk, the pointing system also significantly affects your insurance rate. Higher points could lead to higher insurance premiums.



alternative-pleas-dui-avoid-points-on-your-driving-recordAlternative pleas may help prevent or lessen earning DMV points for your DUI charges. However, it’s best to seek the advice of a lawyer when you decide to proceed with a plea bargain.

A plea bargain is defined as a deal between a prosecutor and a defendant. The defendant accepts to plead guilty to a particular crime in exchange for the prosecutor reducing the charges.

The defendant also agrees to waive their right to appeal in most cases. The court also accepts the guilty plea as part of the plea bargain.

Pleading guilty to a lesser charge can help you avoid the mandatory penalties for DUI. For instance, pleading guilty to a wet reckless can help you avoid the 48-hour jail sentence for DUI.

In most DUI cases, a wet reckless is usually charged due to a plea bargain. The law defines wet reckless as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs but not to the point where it meets the legal criteria for DUI.

The court also often awards a wet reckless charge to first-time offenders with low blood alcohol content levels or those who had no accident or injury involved in their arrest.

Pleading guilty to a wet reckless charge can also help you avoid your driver’s license points. If you are convicted of DUI, the DMV will add two points to your driver’s license. A plea bargain of wet reckless will only add one point.

Remember that every case is different, and alternative pleas may or may not work for you. It is critical to seek the counsel of an attorney who can advise you on the best course of action for your situation.


california-dui-lawyer-near-meA DUI conviction is a serious traffic violation in California. If you are charged with this severe offense, you might lose your driving privileges. However, you have a chance to defend your place and prove that you did not commit this crime.

DUI cases might appear complicated for most people, but not to us. Our DUI Attorney at Summit Defense Law Firm has years of proven track record in this field.

Our law office handled numerous DUI cases in the past, which our lawyers successfully defended. We were able to help countless clients redeem the justice they deserve.

The judge successfully dropped one of the most recent DUI cases we handled. Our lawyer’s thorough analysis of the case reveals that an officer unlawfully arrested our client. Despite the DA’s argument, the judge confirmed that the arrest was unlawful and decided to drop the case.

We can do the same for you! Call us now at 1-866-851-9645 for a free consultation. We will analyze your case meticulously and devise an effective defense strategy.

You can also submit your case information thru our online contact form. When battling against criminal charges, it’s critical to hire a credible lawyer with years of proven experience.

latest news

February 27, 2024
What to Do if You’ve Been Arrested for a DUI in San Jose
Being arrested for a DUI in San Jose, CA, can have severe penalties, potentially resulting in jail time, losing your driver's license, and other serious consequences. Here's what to do if facing a DUI conviction after being accused of driving over the legal limit and how a California DUI lawyer can help you resolve your case with [...]
February 25, 2024
What Happens When You Get a DUI?
Getting a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can be a stressful and life-changing event. It starts the moment a law enforcement officer suspects you've been drinking and driving. This can lead to being pulled over, undergoing a field sobriety test, and possibly being arrested. The consequences of a DUI arrest include legal action, potential jail [...]
February 6, 2024
What Can I Expect After Being Arrested for a DUI in San Jose?

Getting arrested for a DUI in San Jose can be a stressful and confusing experience. You might have many questions about what happens next and what you should do. Knowing the process and what to expect can help you navigate this challenging situation. It’s important to remember that a DUI arrest is severe, and the […]