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Jun 11, 2021

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

One day, you were driving your car when the cops stopped you and charged you with a DUI (driving under the influence). Now, you’re worried about what kinds of consequences you face and wondering if this is going to stay on your record for the rest of your life. Are you going to have your license taken away? Will you have trouble finding jobs? Is your insurance going to go up?

By learning more about DUIs in California and reaching out to an Oakland DUI defense attorney, you’ll have a better chance of fighting these charges and keeping them off your record.

The Definition of a DUI

If you drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, then you could be charged with a DUI in California. If you are a commercial driver, then the BAC limit goes down to .04%. Since California is a zero tolerance state, if you’re under 21 years old and caught driving with a BAC of .01% or more, you could be charged with a DUI as well.

Keep in mind that if you are legally allowed to use drugs, such as prescription drugs or marijuana, that doesn’t mean you can’t be hit with a DUI charge. This applies to alcohol, even if you are over 21 years of age.

DUIs don’t just involve automobiles. You’re also not permitted to ride a scooter or a bike while under the influence.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

A DUI will permanently stay on your criminal record in California, and it will stay on your driving record for 10 years. The DMV uses your driving record to decide what to do in certain situations. For instance, they could determine if they’ll reinstate your suspended license. Law enforcement can also see your driving record.

Unfortunately, you cannot remove a DUI from your driving record. However, when a potential employer does a background check, they will not see this on your driving record. They will see it on your criminal record though. With the help of an Oakland DUI defense attorney, you could potentially expunge it from your record.

Expunging a DUI From Your Criminal Record

There are a few standards you must meet in order to be eligible for expungement of a DUI on your criminal record. You must not be facing other criminal charges for one. Additionally, you must have served your penalties, even probation, and your sentence must not have included state prison (it could include jail time though).

An Oakland DUI defense attorney can look into expunging your record for you. Once they file their request to expunge your record, the prosecutor will either approve it or oppose it. Your attorney can appeal their decision if they oppose it and go to a hearing to push it through. Hopefully, it will be successful and your record will be expunged. Then, when you apply for jobs, you won’t have to tell your employer about your DUI since it will no longer be on your criminal record.

What Penalties Are There for DUIs in California?

Aside from going on your record, there are additional penalties you could face if you are convicted of a DUI.

If this is your first DUI offense, then you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor crime. You will have to pay $390 to $1,000 in fines, plus “penalty assessments” if they apply. You could also be sent to jail for 48 hours to six months. Typically, instead of going to jail, the judge will put you on probation for three to five years. You will have to go to DUI school for three months, or 30 hours of classes. If your BAC was .20% or higher, then you’ll need to complete a nine-month program, or 60 hours of classes.

Your license could be suspended for six months, and you could receive a four-month administrative suspension from the DMV if you had a BAC of .08% or above. If you refuse to do the BAC test, you could receive a one-year administrative suspension. Keep in mind that if you are a first-time offender, you may be able to apply for a restricted license so that you can drive to work and school, since it’s necessary. You’ll have to put an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car, but you can get back on the road immediately.

If this is your second DUI offense, you could also be convicted of a misdemeanor. You’ll have to pay $390 to $1,000 in fines, plus penalty assessments, and go to jail for 96 hours to one year. Instead of going to jail, you may be able to participate in a jail-alternative work program or be on house arrest. You could receive probation for three to five years and go to DUI school for 18 or 30 months. Your license could be suspended for two years and the DMV could give you an administrative suspension for 12 months if your BAC was .08% or higher. While you can apply for a restricted license, you’ll need to have an IID in your car for at least 12 months.

Usually, a third DUI offense is still a misdemeanor. The fines and penalty assessments are the same, $390 to $1,000 plus additional fees, and your jail sentence could range from 120 days to one year. Your probation period could range from three to five years, and you may have to go to DUI school for 30 months. There will be a three-year suspension on your license and the DMV will enact a 12-month administrative suspension if your BAC was .08% or higher. You can apply for a restricted license even with a third DUI offense. Everyone who has a third offense on their record needs to install an IID in their car for at least two years.

A fourth DUI in 10 years can be charged as a felony, which means that you could go to prison for 16 months to four years and pay those fines of $390 to $1,000 plus fees.

If you injure someone while driving under the influence, then you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony since this is a “wobbler” crime. You could go to prison for 16 months to four years and pay fines of $390 to $5,000.

If there were any fatalities, you could be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or second-degree murder, and the consequences will vary. You could spend up to a year in jail or serve 15 years to life in a state prison depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.

Other Consequences for Getting a DUI in California

Criminal charges and DMV consequences are not the only consequences for getting a DUI. You could have trouble finding a job, especially if that job involves driving, with a DUI on your criminal record. Your insurance rates could go up because of a DUI.

The officer who pulls you over for a DUI could also decide to impound your car, which means you’ll have to pay high fees to get it back. For the first or second DUI offense, your car could be impounded for up to 30 days. For a third or subsequent DUI offense, it could be impounded for up to 90 days. This means that if you or your family members are relying on your car for transportation, you may have no way of getting around or you’ll have to use public transportation instead.

What to Do if the Cops Pull You Over for a DUI

If the cops pull you over because they suspect you are driving under the influence, make sure you treat them with respect at all times. Don’t make any moves unless they tell you to. This means that you keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times and you don’t reach into your glove compartment until they instruct you to pull out your license and registration.

Until you are officially arrested, you do not have to participate in any sobriety tests or blow into a Breathalyzer. If the officer tells you to stand on one leg and count out loud for 30 seconds or to do a walk-and-turn test, you can politely refuse. You also don’t have to answer any questions they ask regarding your sobriety because of your Miranda rights, the right to remain silent.

Once the cops have completed their assessment, they can decide whether or not to arrest you. If they arrest you and then ask you to submit to chemical testing, you’ll need to comply, or else you could face harsher consequences. They will need to read you your Miranda rights; if they don’t, their charges might not hold up.

If you do get arrested, you can still remain silent. Just make sure you follow the cops’ directions and you try to remember everything that occurred. As soon as you can, call a family member to reach out to an Oakland DUI defense attorney, or call one yourself if you can remember the number. Your attorney will tell you what to do. It’s best not to repeat anything that you wouldn’t want the cops to hear over the phone, since they could be listening. Wait until you meet with your attorney in person.

As soon as you get out of jail, write down everything you remembered about your arrest. That information could come in handy later on.

Defenses for a DUI

There are different defenses that you could utilize for a DUI charge. Your Oakland DUI defense attorney will determine the best defense for your case.

For instance, perhaps when you agreed to a walk-and-turn test, you were exhausted but not under the influence at all. The cops may have made an unlawful arrest or forgotten to read you your Miranda rights. Someone may have spiked your drink at a bar or party without you knowing it. If you have a medical condition like GERD, acid reflux, or diabetes, your BAC may have clocked in higher. The technician who did your blood test might not have undergone the proper training, or your urine or Breathalyzer tests may not have been properly administered.

Your DUI defense attorney will ask you a number of questions to figure out what the ideal line of defense will be.

Should I Use the Court-Appointed Attorney?

In the U.S., everyone is entitled to legal representation, which means you could receive help from a court-appointed attorney. The only problem is that these attorneys are overworked and overwhelmed with cases. They will not be able to devote the time and energy to your case that you deserve, and you could end up having to go to jail or receiving a conviction on your criminal record. This could negatively impact you for years to come. It’s not worth the risk to rely on a court-appointed attorney. Instead, it’s a good idea to get in touch with an experienced Oakland DUI defense attorney with an excellent track record, like Elliot Silver at Silver Law Firm.

Contacting Oakland DUI Defense Attorney Elliot Silver

Elliot Silver has handled a number of DUI cases for clients. For instance, when a prominent nurse anesthetist was charged with driving under the influence, Elliot Silver obtained a total dismissal of the DUI. This nurse anesthetist did not face criminal charges or have their professional license taken away, which would have had devastating consequences on their career and life.

If you’re in a bind because you’ve been charged with a DUI, make sure you reach out to Oakland DUI defense attorney Elliot Silver today at (510) 995-0000 or by emailing him at He is standing by and eager to help you with your DUI case.

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