Contact Us Today! (916) 498-8460


How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in California?

Posted by John Campanella | Jul 02, 2023 | 0 Comments

Here is a comprehensive overview of how long a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction stays on your record in California:

  1. Lookback Period: In California, the lookback period is 10 years. This means that prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years will be taken into account when determining penalties for subsequent DUI offenses.

  2. Record Retention: The actual DUI conviction will generally remain on your driving record for 10 years from the date of the violation. This record is maintained by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

  3. Criminal Record: While the DUI conviction remains on your driving record for 10 years, the arrest and charge information may appear on your criminal record indefinitely, unless you take legal action to have it expunged or sealed.

  4. Impact on Driving Privileges: A DUI conviction can result in the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges. In California, a first-time DUI offense typically leads to a license suspension of 6 months. Subsequent offenses may result in longer suspensions or revocations. The length of the suspension/revocation varies depending on the specific circumstances of the DUI offense.

  5. Insurance Rates: A DUI conviction can also have an impact on your auto insurance rates. Insurance companies often view DUI convictions as high-risk behavior, leading to increased premiums. The increased rates may persist for several years, even after the DUI conviction is no longer on your driving record.

  6. Subsequent Offenses: If you receive another DUI conviction within the 10-year lookback period, the penalties and consequences can be more severe. Multiple DUI offenses can result in longer license suspensions, mandatory alcohol education programs, ignition interlock device requirements, and potential jail time.

When it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) offenses, one of the common questions people have is, "How long does a DUI stay on your record in California?" Having a DUI on your record can have significant consequences, affecting various aspects of your life, such as employment, insurance rates, and future legal matters. In this article, we will explore the duration of a DUI record in California, along with its implications and the steps you can take to mitigate its impact.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in California?

To understand how long a DUI stays on your record in California, it's essential to consider the different components involved. A DUI typically involves two separate aspects: the criminal court case and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) administrative proceedings. Let's delve into each of these elements to gain a comprehensive understanding.

The Criminal Court Case

In California, a DUI offense is typically classified as a misdemeanor. The duration for which a DUI conviction remains on your criminal record varies depending on the circumstances and the specific offense. Generally, a DUI conviction can stay on your record for ten years from the date of the conviction. During this period, the conviction will be visible to law enforcement agencies, courts, and other entities conducting background checks.

It's worth noting that subsequent DUI convictions within this ten-year period can lead to enhanced penalties, such as longer license suspensions, increased fines, and even potential felony charges. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise responsible and sober driving habits to avoid any further legal complications.

The DMV Administrative Proceedings

Apart from the criminal court case, the DMV also keeps a record of DUI offenses in California. The DMV record includes information related to license suspensions, revocations, and any administrative actions taken as a result of the DUI arrest. Unlike the criminal court case, which has a ten-year duration, the DMV record holds onto the information for a more extended period.

In California, the DMV record for a DUI offense remains on file for ten years from the violation date. This record is accessible to law enforcement officers, court officials, and other authorized entities. It is important to note that the DMV record is separate from the criminal court record, and the two entities handle their respective processes independently.

The Implications of a DUI on Your Record

Now that we have an understanding of how long a DUI stays on your record in California, let's explore the implications it can have on various aspects of your life.

Employment Opportunities

Having a DUI on your record can affect your employment prospects, particularly if your job involves driving or requires a clean criminal background. Many employers conduct background checks as part of their hiring process, and a DUI conviction can raise concerns about your reliability and judgment. However, the impact of a DUI on your employment opportunities may vary depending on the nature of the job and the employer's policies.

It is essential to be transparent about your DUI conviction during the application process, as employers may discover it through the background check. Highlight any rehabilitative efforts you have made since the incident, such as completion of alcohol education programs or voluntary counseling, to demonstrate your commitment to personal growth and responsibility.

Insurance Rates

A DUI conviction can also significantly impact your auto insurance rates. Insurance providers consider DUI offenses as high-risk behaviors, and as a result, your premiums may increase substantially. In some cases, insurance companies may even choose to cancel or refuse coverage altogether. It is advisable to explore different insurance options and compare rates from multiple providers to find the most suitable coverage for your needs.

Legal Consequences

Beyond the immediate penalties imposed by the court, such as fines, license suspension, and mandatory DUI programs, a DUI conviction can have long-lasting legal consequences. If you accumulate multiple DUI convictions within a specific timeframe, the penalties can escalate, potentially leading to felony charges, extended license suspensions, mandatory ignition interlock device installation, and even incarceration.

It is crucial to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in DUI cases to understand the legal implications of your specific situation and explore possible defenses or mitigating factors.


1. How can I expunge a DUI conviction from my record in California?

Expungement is a legal process that allows individuals to have certain convictions dismissed from their records. In California, you may be eligible for DUI expungement if you successfully completed probation, paid all fines and restitution, and fulfilled all the court's requirements. Consulting with an attorney can help you determine your eligibility and guide you through the expungement process.

2. Will a DUI conviction affect my professional license?

If you hold a professional license, such as a medical or law license, a DUI conviction can trigger disciplinary action by the licensing board. It is essential to review your licensing regulations and consult with an attorney who specializes in professional license defense to understand the potential impact of a DUI conviction on your specific license.

3. Can I reduce the duration of a DUI on my record in California?

While the ten-year duration for a DUI on your record is generally standard, you may explore options to reduce its impact. Seeking legal counsel to evaluate your case and potentially negotiate for reduced charges or alternative sentencing can help minimize the consequences of a DUI on your record.

4. How does a DUI affect my auto insurance rates?

A DUI conviction is likely to result in higher auto insurance rates due to the increased risk perception by insurance providers. It is advisable to contact multiple insurance companies to compare rates and find the most competitive coverage available to you.

5. Will a DUI prevent me from traveling to other countries?

Some countries have strict entry requirements regarding criminal convictions, including DUI offenses. It is essential to research the entry regulations of the countries you intend to visit and consult with legal counsel if needed to understand any potential restrictions or additional requirements.

6. Can I seal my DUI record in California?

Sealing a DUI record in California is generally not possible. However, certain records related to an arrest that did not result in a conviction can be sealed. Consulting with an attorney can provide you with the necessary guidance regarding record sealing options available in your specific situation.


A DUI conviction can have significant and lasting consequences on various aspects of your life. In California, a DUI typically stays on your criminal record for ten years from the date of conviction, while the DMV maintains a record for the same duration from the violation date. It is essential to understand the implications of a DUI on your employment, insurance rates, and legal matters.

To mitigate the impact of a DUI on your record, consider seeking legal counsel, participating in rehabilitation programs, and taking proactive steps to demonstrate responsible behavior and personal growth. Remember, responsible and sober driving is not only crucial for your safety but also for maintaining a clean driving record that can positively impact your future.

About the Author

John Campanella

I have been representing people accused of drunk driving since I began practicing in 1995. I am active member of the National College of DUI Defense, a member of California DUI Lawyers Association, I am certified by the National Highway and Traffic Association for the administration of Field Sobriety Tests. I regularly attend DUI continuing education of the Bar, have tried over 35 Jury Trials, hundreds of pretrial motions and over 1000 DMV hearings all relating to DUI cases.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Available 24/7

DUI Defense Since 1994
The Law Office of John Campanella is available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please call today at (916) 498-8460 for a free consultation to go over the details of your case.

Office Location

Law Office of John Campanella
901 H St. Suite 301
Sacramento, CA 95814
Hours: 8:30 – 5:00 M-F
Phone: (916) 498-8460
Fax: (916) 476-6350
Get directions on the map →