How to clean your driving record
Your DUI will appear on both your criminal and driving records. Because the two sets of records exist independently of each other, advice on how to clean your driving record differs significantly from how you would clear your criminal record of a drunk-driving charge.
DUI records: criminal vs. civil
A DUI charge is both a criminal offense and a serious moving violation, and each is recorded in a different way. A DUI conviction will go on your criminal record but, under some circumstances, may be expunged. Keep in mind that expunging a DUI charge from your criminal record does not also clear your driving record.
While the court system handles the criminal side of a DUI offense, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Department of Transportation (DOT) handles the civil aspects. A DUI charge will appear on your driving record as would any other violation, such as a speeding ticket. Unlike with your criminal record, though, violations cannot typically be expunged from your driving record.
Can you clean a DUI from your driving record?
The short answer to this is no, you can't. In every state, the charge will linger for at least 10 years. However, even the passage of time may not help in some states. For example, Florida retains DUI charges on driving records for 75 years, and Tennessee retains them for life. In California, a DUI charge adds two points to your driver's license and stays on your driving record for a decade.
Consequences of having a DUI on your driving record
If a DUI violation appears on your driving record, you might face several consequences. For one, you will have to pay higher insurance premiums. Insurers typically look at your driving record for the past 5 to 10 years depending on your state's laws. If you received your DUI charge within this period, you will face higher rates and may even be denied coverage. However, even though the DUI violation stays on your record, insurers will not take it into consideration after 5 to10 years.
Additionally, having a DUI on your driving record may disqualify you from certain employment, such as a job as a delivery driver. However, employers usually only request a 3-year driving history for potential employees, so the more time that has passed since your DUI, the less likely it is to affect your employability.
DUI conviction vs. charge
Note that you don't have to be convicted of DUI to have it affect your driving record. For example, for a criminal record, some states offer first-time DUI offenders what is known as a deferred judgment or deferred adjudication.
This means that the court holds off on determining guilt and imposing a criminal sentence for a certain period. At the end of that period, if defendants have complied with all the conditions of the deferred judgment, the charge is expunged from their criminal records. In other words, no conviction ever takes place.
Despite that fact, the DUI still appears and remains on the person's driving record for the period determined by state law. The fact that the person was never convicted doesn't matter for their civil records.
While it is possible to expunge a DUI charge from your criminal record, cleaning your driving record of a DUI is a different process. You can consult with a lawyer to discuss your options with your civil records, but the passage of time is likely the only thing that will clear the charge.