Skip to content


How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

5 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

The short answer to this question is FOREVER. Like much of your criminal history, a conviction for DUI (driving under the influence) generally stays on your record.

Many states do allow for criminal charges to disappear after a period of time. However, this information may have been collected by other non-governmental sources. This means that anyone with a few dollars and internet access may be able to see the mistake that you made in the past, which can prove to be a major obstacle in many aspects of your life. With a simple background check, employers, landlords, and others can base their decisions on bad choices you made in the past, and not the positive side of things.

Charges will eventually fall off of your driving record (used for licensing purposes) and insurance record (used for setting your rates), though this varies based on your location.

You should never plead guilty to a DUI before consulting with a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand the penalties and other consequences that you will face if convicted. Let Unbundled Legal Help put you in touch with a local DUI attorney.

What is Driving Under the Influence (DUI)? 

Driving under the influence refers to operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher in all 50 states in the U.S., whether or not your driving is actually impaired.

Note too in most states a minor can receive a DUI for having a BAC of 0.01% or greater because it is illegal to drink alcohol if you are under 21. 

Most people believe they must be driving on a city street or roadway to be charged with a DUI. That’s not always true. You can also be charged with a DUI in the driveway of your home, a parking lot, and even when you are not driving at all.

Many people fail to understand that, along with referring to being intoxicated by alcohol, “under the influence” also refers to being intoxicated by drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and other controlled substances. You can even be charged with DUI for being under the influence of a drug that your doctor prescribed, so long as an officer feels that your ability to drive safely is impaired.

In some states, you can be charged with an offense called Actual Physical Control (APC), even when you were not actually driving. An APC typically carries the same penalties as a DUI, but is charged in cases where an intoxicated person enjoys “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle, but was not actually driving the vehicle.

For instance, while you may believe it’s ok to simply sit in your vehicle with the keys in your pocket, while you wait until you are sober enough to drive or for someone to come pick you up, if the police find you in this situation, you can be charged with APC, and face the same consequences as a DUI charge.

How a DUI Conviction on Your Record Has An Impact

In a DUI conviction, the judge will impose some type of sanction, which may include jail time or suspension of your driver’s license. There are other collateral consequences that a DUI conviction entails. 

For example, if you hold a professional license, you will likely need to report a DUI conviction to the state licensing agency, and consequences could include suspension or revocation of your professional license. A DUI conviction can also prevent you from gaining entry into certain countries, including Canada

A drunk driving conviction can have an impact on your auto insurance and life insurance, making it harder to obtain or retain coverage. In the event of a divorce, a DUI conviction can have an impact on how child custody and visitation are allocated and arranged. 

It is important that before you plead guilty to a DUI charge, you discuss all the consequences, including all of the various collateral consequences, with a qualified criminal defense attorney. They can help you understand exactly what you will be facing after conviction. 

Why Hire an Attorney To Fight a DUI Charge Instead of Pleading Guilty?

There are a variety of other reasons why you should always hire an attorney to fight a DUI charge, instead of pleading guilty. Most importantly, the right attorney may be able to negotiate a better resolution of your case. 

If you wish to resolve your DUI case through a plea bargain, your attorney may be able to negotiate terms that are better than those initially offered by the prosecutor. There may be room to negotiate a reduction in the charges against you. But, if you simply take the prosecutor’s first offer, without allowing an experienced attorney to advocate on your behalf, you will rarely get the best deal possible. 

Secondly, the police may have stopped you without cause, made errors when administering the breathalyzer or chemical blood test, or done something else that a skilled criminal defense attorney can identify and use to get your DUI charges thrown out, or at least reduced to a non-criminal offense, thereby avoiding a criminal conviction. 

You will never know if you do not allow an experienced attorney to examine the police report and other evidence to determine if there are ways to resolve the charge, besides pleading guilty and having a DUI conviction on your record.

Work Towards a Good Outcome with a DUI Lawyer

Traditional DUI lawyers can take between $3,000 and $5,000 to start on a case. However, Unbundled Legal Help specializes in affordable representation and realistic payment options.

The DUI attorneys in our network generally start a case for $1,500 to $2,500 and up. Let us match you with a local DUI attorney for a free consultation today.

Related Blog Posts

Ready to Talk to a Lawyer?

Receive a free consultation with a more affordable lawyer in your local area