How Long Does a DUI or DWI Stay on Your Driving Record?

How Long Does a DUI or DWI Stay on Your Driving Record?

In most states, a DUI or DWI stays on your driving record for five to 10 years. Find out how long each of these drunk driving offenses stays on your driver’s license in your state.

police officer holding breathalyzer

Getting a DUI/DWI is a serious offense with wide ranging ramifications. Unfortunately, DUIs are relatively common. According to the CDC, over one million drivers get arrested for impaired driving annually.

Aside from the legal trouble that comes with a DUI, your driving record gets a blemish. A DUI stays on your driving record for five to ten years in most states. But depending on where you live, you could have a DUI on your driving record for life.

Why Your Driving Record Matters

Your driving record is a huge factor in the price of your insurance policy. It’s one of the first things insurance companies look at when they evaluate your risk level. Drivers with high risk levels pay considerably more for car insurance.

That means if your driving record is stained with tickets, accidents, or, in this case, a DUI, your insurance rates will rise. Insurers typically consider the last three to five years of your driving record when calculating a premium.  If you rack up multiple infractions during that time, your insurer might even cancel your coverage.

Depending on your career, a splotchy driving record can impact your employment opportunities. Requirements for commercial driver’s licenses include having a clean driving record. If you’re applying for a job that doesn’t involve driving, however, your prospective employer might not check your driving record.

The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act ensures your driving record is kept private. Employers and insurance companies can’t access it without legal justification or consent.

Finally, if your driving record has enough infractions, you might get your license suspended. The threshold for license suspension varies by state. In some states, a DUI warrants an automatic suspension.

If your license is suspended, you’re going to need to file an SR-22. In some states, it’s called an FR-44. To reinstate your license, you need to show proof that you have minimum liability insurance. That’s what an SR-22 is – a certificate of financial responsibility. It shows that you have purchased the minimum required amount of insurance in your state.

How to Get a DUI Off Your Driving Record

First things first: get legal help. DUI laws are complex, and the chances of beating a DUI without an attorney’s helps are minimal.  Our research shows that a people with qualified DUI lawyers are three times more likely to get a DUI charge reduced.

A lawyer can help you beat a criminal charge. Unfortunately, removing, sealing, or expunging a DUI from your criminal record doesn’t mean it’s no longer on your driving record.

That means there’s usually nothing you can do to get a DUI off your record besides wait (and avoid additional accidents or infractions). A DUI stays on your driving record until the amount of time specified by state law elapses. Reference the table above to see how long that time period is in your state.

Regardless of the specifics of your situation, you should consult an attorney. They can give you advice and help you mitigate the damage that comes with a DUI. Make sure your attorney has experience handling DUI cases.

How Does a DUI Hurt Your Insurance Rates?

DUIs aren’t just a headache – they’re also extremely expensive. Research shows that a DUI can cost $15,000 when it’s all said and done. That includes bail, towing, legal fees, court fines, diversion programs, ignition locks, and insurance hikes.

Our research shows that drivers pay an average of $830 more per year for car insurance after a DUI. Expect to pay higher insurance rates for three to five years, assuming your driving record stays clean during that time. If you get into an accident or a traffic infraction during those three to five years, your rates may increase exponentially. 

How to Check Your Driving Record

Curious if an old infraction is still on your record? Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to check your driving record to find out. First, you’re going to need identification and your personal information. The exact process varies depending on what state you live in, but here’s how to do it.

  1. Find your state’s official department of licensing website. Make sure the website URL ends in .gov.
  2. Search the website for a driving record page. Most of these pages have a search function you can use. Check for a ‘Records’ or ‘Documents’ tab.
  3. You’re going to have to pay a small fee (around $10 in most states) to get a copy of your driving record. For example, in Michigan it’s $11.

You can also get a copy in person directly from your local DMV. It’s also possible that your insurance agent has a copy on file. Once you have a copy of your driving record, check to make sure that all listed dates and incidents are correct.

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