How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Record In California?

The Marble Team

How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Record In California?

| 5 min

A DUI conviction in California is officially recorded in two places: your driving license and your criminal record. A conviction has all sorts of negative implications for your life, not just in terms of punishments and penalties but also in areas like auto insurance, employment, travel, and requests to state licensing agencies. 

A criminal conviction is a matter of public record and stays with you permanently. On the other hand, details of a DUI conviction remain on your license for ten years.

If you’ve been found guilty of a DUI, you may be able to get your conviction expunged (or removed) from your criminal record. This is useful for certain checks, such as when an employer verifies your background or when another country asks if you have a criminal record.

However, an expungement doesn’t completely wipe the slate clean. Certain government agencies will still see all details, especially if you’re charged with another offense.

With all the different rules and regulations, things can get a bit confusing around a DUI. Keep reading to see how long a DUI stays on your record, along with how expungement can help.

What Is The Difference Between A DUI On My Driving Record Versus My Criminal Record?

The DUI on your driving record is handled by the DMV and is essentially concerned with administering your license, suspensions, and driving privileges. The DMV and law enforcement agencies primarily use that information, but anyone can request driver records access

The criminal record from a DUI is an altogether more serious affair. It affects many more aspects of your life because it highlights that you’ve been convicted of a criminal offense. When you apply for a job, college place, state license, or travel visa, you probably won’t be asked for a copy of your driving record - but you will be asked if you have a criminal record.

Moreover, beware if you’re arrested for a DUI within ten years of your last conviction. The new offense is “priorable,” which is relevant given the punishments for second and third offenses are exponential. You’re looking at more significant fines, lengthier suspensions, and longer jail sentences for subsequent crimes.

When Is A DUI Removed From My Driving Record?

This is an easy one. The DMV website states that the DUI record on your driving license is removed ten years after the date of the violation.

Is A DUI Conviction Permanently On My Driving Record?

The answer to this question is no: as explained above, it drops off after ten years. So if you’re arrested for a DUI more than ten years after your last conviction, it’s treated as a first offense.

DUI Conviction

Can Potential Employers Ask About My DUI Conviction?

Anti-discrimination laws mean that employers aren’t allowed to ask about a job applicant’s criminal record (remember that a DUI counts as a one). However, employers can ask you that question when they make a conditional offer of employment. What’s more, they don’t have to answer you if they subsequently decide not to offer you the job because of your DUI.

One of the most significant advantages of an expungement is that employers are legally not allowed to discriminate against you even if their background checks reveal that you have a DUI.

As ever, there are certain exceptions to the rule. Expungement or not, you can’t become a law enforcement officer with a criminal conviction, and you may also find that security-focused businesses and state licensing authorities take a dim view of your record.

Can I Hide My DUI Conviction?

You may be tempted to try and hide your DUI conviction, but most companies now have access to robust and comprehensive background checks, so there’s a good chance they’ll catch you. You could find yourself in big trouble if you lie about your conviction and the facts come to light. Accordingly, honesty is always the best policy.

Rather than hiding it, you could seek an expungement, where your conviction is removed from your criminal record. However, even if your expungement is successful, certain government agencies still access all the historical information. Note also that you cannot expunge the conviction from your DMV record.

How Do I Remove A DUI From A Criminal Record

The uncomfortable truth is that, short of a presidential pardon, you can’t remove a DUI from your criminal record. An expungement can mitigate some of the unwanted consequences, but it can’t change the fact that you were found guilty of a crime. If you’re arrested for a DUI, that’s why it’s worth exploring every avenue to see if you can get your charge dismissed or reduced to the lesser charge of reckless driving.

Can A Lawyer Help Expunge The DUI Conviction?

An expert DUI lawyer is invaluable at every stage of the legal proceedings - before, during, and after. They offer a comprehensive range of support and services, including helping you expunge your DUI conviction. You can benefit from their experience and knowledge from previous cases to help win yours.

Before you can apply for an expungement, you typically have to wait until your probation period is over (anywhere between three and five years ). You must’ve completed all the probation conditions, and you can’t apply if you’ve spent time in state prison.

Can I Check “No Criminal Record” On My Job Application If The DUI Is Expunged

Yes! If your DUI conviction has been expunged, you’re allowed to say that you don’t have a criminal record. It also means that employers and landlords cannot discriminate against you based on your conviction, even if it appears on a background check (which still can happen).

The other scenario where expungement is useful is for international travel. For example, the Canadian authorities accept that it means you no longer have a criminal record if your expungement clears the conviction.


There’s no easy way to say this, but a California DUI conviction is for life. That said, from a DMV perspective, the record is dropped from your driving license after ten years. Furthermore, if you’re successful in getting the conviction expunged, it makes your life a whole lot easier concerning background checks. 

However, as with all parts of the DUI legal process, you may find that your interests are best served by having a top-class DUI lawyer at your side every step of the way. This dedicated individual can help you potentially transform a DUI into a blip on your public record rather than a criminal record that lasts as long as ten years.

Dec 30, 2020
The Marble Team