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.
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.
A driving record with a DUI will cause you several problems down the road. This includes rising insurance rates, SR-22 requirements, and employment difficulties.
Beyond your driving record, a DUI puts a black mark on your criminal record. That can come with jail time and costly fines.
But there's a big difference between criminal record and driving record. In most states, a DUI stays on your criminal record for life, unless you get the charge reduced, deferred, expunged, or sealed.
This article covers how DUIs hurt your driving record and how to get it removed.
DUIs and Driving Records by State
Every state handles DUIs differently, so it's hard to give one size fits all advice. When reading about your state, consider these facts:
- Most states use a point system to track your driving. When you commit a traffic violation, the state DMV places points on your license. If you rack up enough points, you run the risk of license suspension.
- Insurance companies check your license points when pricing your insurance policy. More license points lead to higher insurance rates.
- Of the states that use a point system, some give points for DUIs, while others opt for harsher penalties. In lieu of points, those states will automatically suspend your license or fine you after a DUI.
- The amount of license points given for a DUI varies by state. The length that points stay on your license also depend on where you live. In some states it's a set amount of years. In other states, you can subtract points every year without driving violations.
The table below outlines how long a DUI stays on a driving record in each state. It also covers the amount of license points for DUIs, and how long those points stay on a license. In states with more severe penalties than license points, drivers usually face automatic license suspension.
|State||On Record For||Points||Point length|
|Alabama||5 years||6 points||2 years|
|Alaska||For life||10 points||2 points off per 2 years|
|Arizona||5 years||8 points||3 years|
|Arkansas||5 years||14 points||3 years|
|California||10 years||2 points||3 years|
|Colorado||10 years||8 points||2 years|
|Connecticut||10 years||3 points||2 years|
|Delaware||5 years||Extra penalties||N/A|
|Florida||75 years||Extra penalties||3 years|
|Georgia||10 years||Extra penalties||2 years|
|Hawaii||5 years||No point system||N/A|
|Idaho||10 years||Extra penalties||3 years|
|Illinois||5 to 20 years||No point system||N/A|
|Indiana||For life||8 points||2 years|
|Iowa||12 years||No point system||N/A|
|Kansas||For life||No point system||N/A|
|Kentucky||5 years||8 points||2 years|
|Louisiana||10 years||No point system||N/A|
|Maine||10 years||Extra penalties||1 year|
|Maryland||5 years||12 points||3 years|
|Massachusetts||10 years||5 points||6 years|
|Michigan||7 years||6 points||2 years|
|Minnesota||10 years||No point system||N/A|
|Mississippi||5 years||No point system||N/A|
|Missouri||10 years||8 points||1.5 years|
|Montana||5 years||10 points||3 years|
|Nebraska||12 years||6 points||2 years|
|Nevada||7 years||Extra penalties||1 year|
|New Hampshire||10 years||6 points||3 years|
|New Jersey||10 years||9 points||3 points off per year|
|New Mexico||55 years||Extra penalties||1 year|
|New York||10 years||Extra penalties||1.5 years|
|North Carolina||7 years||Extra penalties||3 years|
|North Dakota||5 years||Extra penalties||3 years|
|Ohio||For life||6 points||3 years|
|Oklahoma||10 years||Extra penalties||3 years|
|Oregon||For life||No point system||N/A|
|Pennsylvania||10 years||Extra penalties||3 points off per year|
|Rhode Island||5 years||No point system||N/A|
|South Carolina||10 years||Extra penalties||2 years|
|South Dakota||10 years||10 points||Varies|
|Tennessee||For life||Extra penalties||2 years|
|Texas||For life||2 points||3 years|
|Utah||10 years||Extra penalties||2 years|
|Vermont||For life||Extra penalties||2 years|
|Virginia||11 years||Extra penalties||2 years|
|Washington||15 years||No point system||N/A|
|West Virginia||10 years||Extra penalties||2 years|
|Wisconsin||10 years||6 points||5 years|
|Wyoming||10 years||No point system||N/A|
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.
SR-22 requirements generally last three years, and they're costly. Usually your insurer charges a flat fee (between $15 to $50) and your DMV charges a filing fee. That's in addition to license reinstatement fees. You might even need specific SR-22 (or FR-44) insurance. In other words, needing an SR-22 is costly.
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.
- Find your state's official department of licensing website. Make sure the website URL ends in .gov.
- 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.
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I get a DUI off my driving record?
A: Your options for erasing your driving record are slim. In fact, there's really only one option: wait. Each state mandates that DUIs stay on a person's driving record for a set amount of time. After the set time expires (assuming you avoid additional infractions), your driving record is wiped clean.
The exact time you'll have to wait varies depending on where you live. Most put a DUI on a driving record for five to 10 years.
Q: I got a DUI removed from my criminal record. Is it off my driving record too?
A: Not necessarily. Your criminal and driving record are separate. You can get a DUI removed, expunged, or deferred from your criminal record. But that doesn't mean it's no longer on your driving record.
Your criminal record is overseen by the state's court system. Your driving record, on the other hand, is overseen by your state's DMV. They are two separate entities.
Q: How long does a DUI hurt my insurance rates?
A: Insurers typically consider incidents from the last three to five years when pricing your policy. If you have an accident or a traffic violation during that time, your car insurance will cost more. If you have multiple incidents (like accidents, speeding tickets, or DUIs) during that period, you're going to pay even higher rates.
If three to five years pass without any additional incidents, ask your insurance company to reassess your rates. There's a good chance your rate will go back to normal once that time has passed.
Q: If I got a DUI in one state, does it show up on my driving record in another state?
A: In most cases, yes. Most states transfer violations from past states. It depends on your new state's laws, but it's a good rule of thumb to assume your DUI will show up on any driving record. That's the case if you get a DUI while out of your home state, or if you move to a new state with an old DUI on your record.
If you get a DUI while visiting another state, it will likely be shared with your home state's DMV through the Driver License Compact. Every state participates except for Georgia, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Tennessee. But those states often have informal agreements with other states to exchange driver information.
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