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How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

What is a DUI?

A DUI, also known as DWI in certain states, is a criminal charge for drunk driving. DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and refers mainly to the influence of alcohol. It can also refer to other drugs, such as cannabis or opioids. 

DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated” and refers to the same substances covered in a DUI. Furthermore, anyone operating any motorized vehicle can be charged for this offense. This includes the use of motorized watercraft, lawnmowers, and non-motorized bicycles.

The legal driving limit varies depending on where you’re from. Most states have set the legal limit to 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Anything above that is already considered drunk driving. 

It is best to avoid drinking altogether when using a motorized vehicle. It is very easy for anyone to drink too much.

DUI is a criminal offense in many states. A DUI conviction will show up as either a misdemeanor or a felony on a criminal record. A misdemeanor is less serious than a felony. Some states declare two or more misdemeanors as a felony.

Again, DUI and DWI parameters differ from state to state. Penalties and consequences also depend on the state you are in when you commit the violation. 

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

The length of time that a DUI or DWI will stay on your record depends on state laws. A DUI stays on your driving record for five to 10 years in most states. Some states stay on for life.

Some states have a “washout period” that could let a DUI record stay for five to fifteen years; some states do not. A DUI conviction will remain in a criminal record forever for states that do not have this washout period.

States that keep a DUI on your record for 5 years include:

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan (7 years), Mississippi, Montana, Nevada (7 years), North Carolina (7 years), North Dakota (7 years), and Rhode Island.

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States that keep a DUI on your record for 10 years include:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa (12 years), Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska (12 years), New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia (11 years), West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

States that keep a DUI on your record for 15 years include:

New York and Washington.

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States that keep a DUI on your record for life include:

Alaska, Arkansas, Florida (75 years), Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico (55 years), Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont.

Consequences of a DUI on Your Record

Immediate consequences may include law enforcement issues, fines, and jail time. There are also longer-term consequences of having a DUI on your record.

These include:

  • License suspension
  • Restrictions on driving privileges
  • Travel restrictions to other countries (including Canada)
  • Insurance companies impose higher car insurance rates
  • Lengthy probation
  • Possibility of court-ordered alcohol education programs
  • Possible requirement to complete a formal alcohol or substance use disorder evaluation
  • Possible court-ordered substance use disorder treatment
  • Criminal record 

A first DUI arrest is usually treated as a misdemeanor, but subsequent DUI convictions will likely result in felony charges. These are treated as serious criminal offenses. 

The consequences of a felony DUI charge may result in losing the right to vote. However, this varies by state; not all felons lose this right.

You may also lose the right to sit on a jury, own a firearm, and a DUI will create difficulties in finding employment. 

Does a DUI in One State Show Up in Another State?

In short, yes. If someone is charged with a DUI and convicted outside of their home state, the DUI will follow the individual home.

Most states participate in the Driver’s License Compact Nonresident Violator Compact to share information about driving records. This is independent of a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) background check.

If someone is charged with a DUI in their home state and then moves to another state, their license will still be suspended in their new area of residence.

The offender cannot obtain a new license until the suspension period is satisfied from the state of conviction. 

You probably will need legal help to expunge previous DUI criminal convictions. Throughout the United States, numerous law firms and law offices focus solely on DUI laws and fight to avoid DUI convictions.

A DUI defense attorney or DUI lawyer can provide everything from legal advice to criminal defense for new DUI charges. DUI lawyers are also helpful in seeking the expungement of DUI cases. 

How to Get a DUI Off Your Record

In some states, a DUI is considered a criminal offense and not just a mere traffic violation. The conviction stays on a person’s criminal record permanently. 

This becomes a problem when applying for jobs because potential employers conduct background checks. Getting a commercial driver’s license and other professional licenses may also be a challenge because you must fully disclose your criminal history.

The good news is, there are some states where a DUI record may be expunged.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Having served all corresponding penalties and successful completion of required probation
  • A sentence that did not involve spending time inside a state prison (unlike jail time)
  • There are no other criminal charges against you at the moment

When a DUI is expunged, it will no longer be a part of your criminal record. 

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Updated on March 29, 2022
10 sources cited
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  2. United States Department of Justice. “Alcohol-Related Offenses.” USDJ. https://www.ojp.gov/taxonomy/term/1191
  3. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. “Drunk Driving by the Numbers.” BTS. https://www.bts.gov/archive/publications/by_the_numbers/drunk_driving/index
  4. “PENAL CODE CHAPTER 49. INTOXICATION AND ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE OFFENSES.” Statutes.Capitol.Texas.Gov, statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.49.htm.
  5. Brown, David. “DUI and DWI Overview.” www.Nolo.Com, Nolo, 10 Oct. 2011, www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/dui-dwi-overview-30316.html.
  6. Cavaiola, Alan A., et al. “Characteristics of DUI Recidivists: A 12-Year Follow-up Study of First Time DUI Offenders.” Addictive Behaviors, Pergamon, 28 July 2006, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306460306002127.
  7. DG;, Fors SW;Rojek. “The Effect of Victim Impact Panels on DUI/DWI Rearrest Rates: a Twelve-Month Follow-Up.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10463808/.
  8. Nochajski, Thomas H., and Paul R. Stasiewicz. “Relapse to Driving under the Influence (DUI): A Review.” Clinical Psychology Review, Pergamon, 20 Dec. 2005, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027273580500142X.
  9. Raymund E. Narag, Sheila Royo Maxwell. “A Phenomenological Approach to Assessing a DUI/DWI Program - Raymund E. Narag, Sheila Royo Maxwell, Byung Lee, 2013.” SAGE Journals, journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0306624X11431685.
  10. Spiehler, Vina, et al. “CUT-OFF CONCENTRATIONS FOR DRUGS OF ABUSE IN SALIVA FOR ...” Forensic Science, Problems of Forensic Sciences, 16 May 2000, www.forensicscience.pl/pfs/42_spiehler.pdf.

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