How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

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Penalties for driving under the influence (DUI), and how long this criminal offense will stay on your driving record varies from state to state, but the average in most states is five to 10 years. There are some exceptions, however. In Virginia, for example, a DUI remains on your driving record for 11 years.

What is a DUI?

Unfortunately, DUIs are one of the most common criminal offenses in this country; about one million DUI arrests occur in the U.S. annually. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re sober enough to drive or won’t get caught. But both drugs and alcohol can seriously impair your judgment and ability to safely operate a motor vehicle; in fact, even one drink can affect your decision-making skills.

How Can I be Charged with a DUI?

Law enforcement can charge you with a DUI if they suspect that you are operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. If you are pulled over, cause an accident, or are the victim in another accident, and an officer suspects that you are impaired, he/she may perform a field sobriety test. This may involve administering a breath test (often referred to as a breathalyzer), or having you walk in a straight line or recite the ABCs backwards. In most states, refusing to take a field sobriety test is still grounds to charge you with a DUI, and often leads to additional penalties.

In every state in the nation, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However, the limit can actually be lower in certain circumstances. In Massachusetts, for example, the BAC limit is 0.02 percent for drivers under 21. This is called a “zero-tolerance policy” law and exists in many states, though the particulars of the law can vary. 

Most first-time DUIs, though still serious, have lighter consequences, such as fines and license suspension. But you can still do time behind bars for a first-offense DUI, and these consequences increase in severity if you are convicted of subsequent offenses. 

What are the Legal Consequences of a DUI?

First and foremost, an intoxicated driver is a serious public health and safety issue. If your driving leads to an injury accident, it will impact the charges against you. Causing injury or death will elevate charges to an aggravated DUI. But DUI’s can also be considered aggravated due to smaller infractions, such as driving with an invalid license or having a minor in the vehicle. Aggravated DUIs are often charged as felonies. 

DUI penalties are largely dependent on the state, the circumstances of your arrest, and whether you have prior DUIs or criminal convictions. For example, in California, the penalties for non-aggravated DUIs are as follows:

  • First offense: Up to six months in county jail, at least three months of a DUI program, a $390 to $1000 fine, and either a four-month license suspension or six months with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed.

  • Second offense: 90 days to one year in county jail, 18 to 30 months of a DUI program, a $390 to $1000 fine, and either one year with an IID installed or a two-year license suspension. 

  • Third offense: 120 days to one year in county jail; three to 30 months of a DUI program; a $390 to $1000 fine, and either two years with an IID installed or a three-year license suspension. 

At the fourth or higher offense, or in the case of an aggravated DUI, you will likely be charged with a felony.

Even after your license is reinstated, you may be put on DUI probation, which can look different depending on your unique circumstances. In whatever form it takes, DUI probation restricts your driving privileges. You may be issued a restricted license allowing you to do essential driving only, such as commuting to and from work.

It’s also important to note than a DUI shows up on two records–your driving record and your criminal record. Although it disappears from your driving record after a period of time, a DUI will remain on your criminal record permanently. There are some circumstance however where a conviction may be removed through a process called expungement.

Will a DUI Affect My Auto Insurance?

Outside of criminal penalties, a DUI can be devastating for auto insurance rates. Premium hikes are especially punishing in California, where the rate increases by an average of 164 percent in the wake of a DUI conviction.

The best form of prevention for all of these consequences is to avoid driving while under the influence of any substance. However, if you do find yourself facing DUI charges, a DUI defense attorney, such as the team from The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, will explain your rights and options and help you with the process.

August 6, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized