Make no mistake about it, a DUI conviction in California is a serious offense. It can not only affect your immediate future but also your rights and freedoms down the road.
A DUI may not sound as serious as a violent crime or a drug crime. However, any criminal charge or conviction that results in a criminal record may severely affect you in the longer term.
In fact, a criminal conviction can remain with you for the rest of your life.
This means that every time a potential employer, landlord, or other entity checks your background, your conviction may show.
A criminal record can restrict your freedoms as well as your finances. It can even affect child custody arrangements during a divorce.
If you have been convicted of a DUI, how long will it remain on your record if you do nothing? Is there anything you can do to have it removed?
If you’re facing a DUI charge at present, how can you give yourself the best chance of escaping a criminal record?
How serious is a DUI conviction?
California is no different from other states when it comes to DUI. In California, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23152 (b).
If you have a commercial driver’s license, the BAC limit is 0.04 percent. Additionally, if you are under the age of 21, the BAC limit is even lower. The limit for underage drivers is 0.01 percent.
California is tough on DUI. Even first-time offenders can face fines of up to $1,000, license suspension up to four months, and up to six months’ jail time, as well as mandatory attendance at DUI classes.
For repeat offenders, punishment increases to more jail time, longer license suspensions, and more extensive DUI class attendance.
How long does a DUI stay on your criminal record?
A DUI generally remains on your criminal record forever unless you take steps to have it removed.
But don’t panic just yet. Removal of the conviction from your record (or “expungement”) may be possible – more about that below.
Of course, the easiest way to ensure that your criminal record is clean is to have your charges dismissed or be acquitted of the alleged crime.
That requires a strong defense, which is also discussed in more detail below.
How long does a DUI stay on your driving record?
Fortunately, a DUI charge does not stay on your driving record forever.
Generally speaking, it remains on your driving record for up to 10 years and is viewable by the DMV and law enforcement during that time.
The other good news is that a DUI conviction on your driving record does NOT show on most background checks.
This means that if you manage to get your conviction sealed or expunged, your driving record cannot be accessed by future employers or landlords and used against you.
Does a DUI show up on a background check in California?
Criminal records show up every time a potential employer, landlord, financial institution, or other entity conducts a background check.
When this check is performed, it is usually based on a person’s social security number.
Sometimes, however, a more in-depth background check is performed when using a person’s fingerprints by some governmental agencies, employers in banking, education, healthcare, and other security-sensitive fields.
The criminal record shows a person’s entire criminal history. The details not only show the convictions but also the arrests. The DUI information will generally be viewable by law enforcement and state licensing agencies for life.
Can you get a DUI expunged in California?
If you’ve already been convicted of DUI, our experienced attorneys may be able to help you get the conviction removed from your criminal record. This depends on the circumstances of your conviction.
In California, individuals who have been convicted of DUI can file a motion to dismiss pursuant to California Penal Code 1203.4 (“expungement”). This is a legal procedure which effectively results in the dismissal of the case.
In most cases, an expungement or sealing of the record means that employers and landlords may not legally consider a conviction, regardless of it still appearing on your record (which, unfortunately, is sometimes the case).
You can also check the “no criminal record” box with a clear conscience if it appears on a job application.
However, the DUI will still show up as a prior conviction. This means that if you get convicted of another DUI within the 10 year period, it will be charged as a second offense.
An expungement will seal the conviction from most standard background checks performed by landlords and employers, except for governmental employers and those requiring government licenses, who still have access to this information.
Can you get a DUI conviction removed from your driving record?
Getting a DUI conviction removed from your driving record is another story.
A driving license suspension is an administrative penalty rather than a criminal penalty. Therefore an expungement is not possible.
Unfortunately, you will need to get used to the fact that the DMV and law enforcement will be able to view your driving record for up to 10 years.
How do you get a DUI conviction removed from your criminal record?
To be eligible for expungement, you must have completed probation, and you must not have served time in state prison.
If you meet these criteria, it is possible to petition the court for an expungement of either a misdemeanor or felony DUI conviction. A judge will then review the case and decide whether to grant the petition for expungement.
If the judge grants your petition, your case will be officially dismissed and the conviction will disappear from your criminal record.
Our experienced DUI lawyers will make sure to give you a copy of the sealed or expunged court order. You should retain this document so that you have proof that your DUI conviction is dismissed and removed from your criminal record.
DUI expungements are frequently requested in Orange County. Many honest people make mistakes and do not want one wrong decision to be a permanent stain on their record.
Our experienced criminal defense lawyers can help you with the DUI expungement process. Over the years, we have helped many good people convicted of DUIs in Orange County have their DUIs removed from their criminal records by this expungement process.
How do you escape a criminal record with a DUI charge?
The best way to ensure that your record is clean is to not have a conviction in the first place.
This may sound obvious, but it is surprising how many people accept that a DUI charge and do not realize this leads to a criminal conviction. In reality, with the help of our experienced criminal defense lawyers, they may be able to put forward a strong defense to avoid this conviction.
Even if the evidence against you is strong, law enforcement officers do make mistakes with the procedure. Additionally, the testing equipment they use is not always reliable.
Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will not concede your DUI charge but will leave no stone unturned in examining the evidence while they build your defense.
Some common defenses that we use at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian include:
- Failure of officers to follow correct testing procedures;
- Correctly calibrating the breathalyzer;
Violating your constitutional rights;
Lack of objective probable cause or reasonable suspicion by a police officer;
A high registering BAC level due to a medical condition;
Unreliable evidence from field sobriety tests.
If you have been arrested, cited, or detained for a DUI start examining your options. However, if you have already been convicted of a DUI make an appointment with our office immediately for a free online consultation with our experienced criminal defense lawyers regarding the possibility of expungement.
Been charged with a DUI in California?
Many times, DUIs are honest mistakes. Unfortunately, most people believe that after drinking a beer or two, they are under the legal limit of 0.08 and can lawfully drive.
This is a dangerous mistake to make as you have seen the severe potential consequences.
With an experienced DUI attorney who is familiar with the legal system in California, you have a chance of escaping a conviction. Our lawyers have defended very challenging DUI charges.