How to Clear Your Record of a DUI - DUI Expungement (2023)

The content below reflects general high-level advice for people seeking to clear their record. Your unique case will depend on a number of factors, including which state you live in. This page is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult your lawyer and ourTerms of Usepage for more information.

Driving under the influence is a serious criminal offense, and having a DUI (driving under the influence) on your record can mean anything from higher insurance premiums to losing your license or restricting which types of jobs you could apply for (e.g., being an Uber/Lyft driver). Clearing your record of a DUI is possible, but it depends on a multitude of factors, and could take a long time.

If you are attempting to clear your record of a DUI but still struggle with alcohol, it may be time to seek professional help. Our admissions navigators can provide information on treatment options to aid in your recovery. Call our hotline at to start your journey toward recovery today.

The DUI Process

Getting a DUI can be a scary process, and it can have very serious consequences. If police suspect you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will be pulled over and asked to submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. You do have theright to refuse to take the tests, but prosecutors can still base a potential DUI charge on other evidence at the scene, such as officer observations and eyewitness testimony. Your refusal to submit to a test could also be used against you if the case goes to trial.

Some states allowyou to refuse a breathalyzer (at the risk of incurring a small penalty), but impose more severe penalties if you refuse to give blood or urine samples at a police station (like suspending your license or impounding your vehicle).

Assuming you consent to the tests and your blood alcohol content is over the legal limit of 0.08% (or 0.05% in Utah), you will be arrested and booked at a police station on suspicion of driving under the influence. After your arrest, you will receive a summons to appear in court, at which point you will be presented with the evidence that the arresting officer collected against you. During your appearance, you will be required to make a guilty or not guilty plea of driving under the influence.

How to Clear Your Record of a DUI - DUI Expungement (1)

Every driver convicted of a DUI will have their license suspended; the length of time depends on the respective state’s law and nature of the DUI offense. Typically, first-time offenders lose their license for six months to a year. If your DUI took place in a school zone in New Jersey, however, you could lose your license for up to two years. Depending on your conviction, you may be only able to drive to and from work and to mandated DUI classes for a certain number of months.

A DUI does not necessarily mean a jail sentence, although first-time offenders may spend a night or two in the “drunk tank,” a facility where intoxicated individuals remain until they make bail. Minor DUI offenses will result in probation, for which you will need to complete the terms, conditions and fees of your probation before getting the conviction wiped from your record can be considered.

If you or someone you care about is struggling to with alcohol abuse or may be at risk of driving under the influence, it may be time to seek professional is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, which specializes in the treatment of alcoholism and offers a nationwide network of rehab facilities. Consider reaching out to our24/7 helpline at to discuss your situation with one of our admissions navigator who can help provide treatment information and help you determine your next steps.

What is a DUI Expungement?

A DUI can leave a lasting stain on a criminal record, but there are ways to get the stain cleaned. The process of getting a DUI removed from your permanent record is known as “expunging.” Though an expungement might clear up your criminal record, your driving record may still show your DUI. Yet, having one on your driving record won’t last forever and license-related consequences generally only last for a finite period of time (i.e. one month suspension, six months redistricted driving).

Once convicted of a DUI, you’ll also need to file an SR-22 with your car insurance provider which will likely increase your rates. This will eventually be removed, depending on state laws, after some time. However, not every state allows for expungements, and those that do place a number of restrictions on how to do so.

In Texas and Mississippi, for example, DUI convictions cannot be removed from your record, although many other offenses can be while in Arizona, courts can set aside and eventuallydischarge the DUI. Yet other states have a more nuanced approach, agreeing to expunge (or not) on the basis of the sentence handed down at the DUI conviction, as opposed to doing so on the nature of the DUI offense itself. An example of this would be granting the expungement if you only received and completed a deferred sentence and completed the period of probation.

However, violating the terms of your sentence (e.g., by not paying fines and court costs, or getting into trouble again) will almost certainly result in a court refusing to expunge the DUI conviction from your record.

Eligibility for a DUI Expungement

Probation is an important factor of DUIs and potential for expungement. It accounts for two of the three general requirements that must be met in order for you to be eligible for an expungement (and even then, they do not guarantee that the conviction will be wiped):

  1. There must have been some kind of probationary component to the DUI sentence. If there was no probation—that is, if the offense of the DUI was so serious that you were sent directly to a state prison as punishment—then it is unlikely that a judge will consider expungement.
  2. You must have complied with all the requirements of the DUI probation. If anything happened that violated the terms of your probation, there is a high chance you will not be able to get the DUI off your record.
  3. You cannot have a pending criminal issue facing you when you request the DUI expungement. If a judge determines that the reason for your expungement request is because you (or your attorney) are afraid it will be used against you in the other case, they will probably deny your request.

Petitioning for an DUI Expungement

If you (and/or your attorney) determine that you meet your state’s requirements to expunge a DUI conviction from your criminal record, there are a few ways to request this. You must file a petition which includes an affidavit and a motion for relief, pay filing fees (anywhere between $100 and $400), and then inform the prosecuting attorney’s office of your intent. When the prosecuting attorney’s office receives notice of your request, they will have to file an answer and challenge your request.

The petition itself is subject to a review before a judge, even before it is officially upheld or denied. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the DUI and the sentencing you received, a judge may have to sign off on your petition for expungement before it can be submitted to a court.

The last step of the process is to request a final hearing in front of a judge. If you are granted the opportunity, you will have to show why you deserve to have your DUI conviction expunged. Your attorney will make the arguments on your behalf, but you may be called to give a statement to the court and answer questions from the judge.

How Long Until My Record is Expunged?

In the same way that different states have their own laws about allowing expungements, the amount of time that has to pass between your conviction and your petition to expunge changes from one border to another. Typically, you have to wait at least a year from the date of your conviction in order for the courts to consider a request to wipe your record clean, but the waiting period may be influenced by the gravity of the DUI offense and your probation period. A DUI attorney will be able to best advise you on the most optimum time to file a petition.

Once the petition is filed, an expungement for a DUI can take up to six weeks to be processed. Felony DUIs tend to take longer while a misdemeanor DUI can be processed in as little as two weeks. After the court grants approval for a DUI to be expunged from your record, you will still have to wait for the expungement to take effect. The court system will have to update its documentation, and only then will the relevant DUI records reflect the expungement. It normally takes around 48 hours for a court to update its DUI records, but if any federal agencies (like the FBI) have information related to your DUI, then it could take months for your expungement to go into effect.

Can I File a DUI Non-Disclosure?

Not qualifying for a DUI expungement doesn’t have to be the end of the road. It might still be a good idea to talk with an attorney who specializes in expungements and DUI laws. You might have some options available to you that grant similar effects. For example, you could petition for DUI non-disclosure, whereby your criminal record is sealed from private agencies (like a potential employer) who may want to conduct a background check on you. However, the DUI will still remain on your criminal record, so it will turn up on a deeper criminal background check.

Texas is a state that allows forDUI non-disclosure petitions, but they are only available to first-time DUI offenders. Additionally, if a child was in the vehicle you were driving, you cannot petition for a non-disclosure of your DUI. Having a blood alcohol content level of 0.15% or higher will also disqualify you. Other restrictions apply, based on respective state and local laws, and if the nature of the DUI offense is such that a judge waives probation, then it is unlikely that you will be able to petition for a DUI non-disclosure.

If an expungement petition is granted, then the DUI is wiped from your record, as though the conviction never happened. An employer or landlord running a background check will not find any trace of it—depending on the severity of the original offense and the state where it happened—and your DUI might never again show up on your record.

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How long does it take to expunge a DUI in California? ›

In California, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) stays on the defendant's driving record for 10 years after the arrest. It cannot be removed from the driving record during that time. felony offenses.

What is the best outcome for a DUI? ›

Finally, if you are acquitted of a DUI after a trial or the charges against you are dropped, then you certainly have achieved the best-case scenario. However, most clients would consider a prosecutor's offer of a careless driving guilty plea in exchange for withdrawing the DUI charges to be an absolute win.

Can I expunge my record myself in Texas? ›

Most people can file and successfully process their own Texas expungement forms without the assistance of a lawyer. All you need is the proper forms and easy step-by-step instructions to complete your Texas expungement.

How much does it cost to expunge a DUI in California? ›

Misdemeanor Expungements $900* Misdemeanor DUI Expungement $1,075. Felony Expungement $1,200* (includes a reduction to a misdemeanor when eligible) Sealing of Juvenile or Diversion Records: $3,500.

Does expunged DUI show up on background check California? ›

If your DUI gets expunged, it will not show up on most criminal background checks. Even if an employer does find out about your DUI, they can no longer hold it against you. Unlike a normal criminal conviction, an expunged conviction cannot be considered for employment, professional licensing, or college admissions.

How do I clear my DUI from my record in California? ›

Can I "expunge" a DUI from my record? You can expunge a California DUI conviction as soon as your term of probation expires. Unlike some states, there is no waiting period. However, you must have successfully completed the terms of your probation, such as paying fines, doing DUI school, and avoiding any new arrests.

What is the most common DUI? ›

Ram 2500 pickup truck

What is the most common sentence for a DUI? ›

In most states, a first-offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by no more than six months or a year in jail. However, in a few states, the maximum jail time for a first DUI is even shorter. For example, the maximum jail time for a first DWI in New Jersey is 30 days.

What do you say at court for drink driving? ›

If you have decided to plead guilty to drink driving there are some simple things that you can do improve your chances of the best result at court by saying: I am guilty. I am sorry. I have no criminal convictions/a clean driving licence/a good driving record.

How long does it take for your record to clear after expungement? ›

Criminal Records may take at least one year to be expunged. If an individual's application is rejected, he/she may re-apply to the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Board two years after the date of rejection.

Can I get my DUI expunged in Texas? ›

A DWI conviction cannot be expunged in Texas. However, a DWI charge that did not result in a final conviction can be expunged in some circumstances. DWI charges that can't be expunged may be eligible to be sealed under Texas's DWI Second Chance Law.

Who qualifies for expungement? ›

You can apply to have your criminal record expunged when: a period of 10 years has passed after the date of the conviction for that offence. you have not been convicted and sentenced to a period of imprisonment without the option of a fine during those 10 years.

Is expungement worth it California? ›

For most people, the most valuable benefit of expunging your California criminal record is that it can assist you in securing employment, in spite of suffering a criminal conviction. Today, almost every employer does a background check before hiring a job applicant.

How long does a DUI stay on your record in California background check? ›

A DUI in California is not a simple traffic violation. Instead, a DUI conviction gets treated as either a misdemeanor or a felony criminal conviction. As such, it enters your criminal record permanently. This is what employers, colleges, and even landlords will see when doing a background check on you.

How can I get my record expunged for free in California? ›

File a DIY Petition for Expungement in California
  1. Obtain a copy of your criminal record. You can get a copy of your record from the superior court.
  2. Complete probation. ...
  3. Pay all fines, fees, and restitution.
  4. In the case of a felony, petition the court to reduce charges. ...
  5. In the case of a misdemeanor, complete and submit CR-180.
Jan 19, 2022

What happens when you expunge a DUI California? ›

DUI expungement allows you to honestly and legally say you have not been convicted of a crime. Once your DUI conviction is expunged, it cannot be used against you when attempting to get a job or promotion. Otherwise, if you do not expunge your DUI, you will have a DUI on your criminal record for life.

Will a DUI show up on a background check after 10 years in California? ›

Fortunately, a DUI charge does not stay on your driving record forever. Generally speaking, it remains on your driving record for up to 10 years and is viewable by the DMV and law enforcement during that time. The other good news is that a DUI conviction on your driving record does NOT show on most background checks.

What is the difference between expungement and sealing in California? ›

The key difference between expunging a person's criminal record and sealing it is that a sealed record still “exists” in both a legal and physical sense, while expungement results in the deletion of any record that an arrest or criminal charge ever occurred.

Can I go to Canada with a DUI? ›

Can I enter Canada? If you've been convicted of driving while impaired, you may be inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. This means that you generally can't enter Canada.

How do I check my expungement status? ›


How many DUI cases are dismissed California? ›

Finally, if there is a lack of well-documented evidence, the case against the driver is dropped. All of that noted these instances of DUI dismissals are rare as California prosecutors obtained a 90 percent conviction rate in 2006, meaning that defendants only had a ten percent chance of getting their case dropped.

What state is toughest on DUI? ›

Arizona is the state with the harshest DUI laws and the only one to earn a perfect 5.0-star rating. Arizona's tough laws include mandatory ignition interlock devices for all DUI convictions. Having a child in the vehicle when arrested for a DUI is also considered a felony in Arizona.

What state is most lenient on DUI? ›

A new study was published this month by WalletHub ranking the fifty US states and the District of Columbia on strictness and leniency in dealing with DUIs and DWIs.
Most Strict and Most Lenient States for DUIs.
Most StrictMost Lenient
1- Arizona1- South Dakota
2- Alaska2- District of Columbia
3- Connecticut3- Pennsylvania
4- West Virginia4- North Dakota
7 more rows

What state has highest DUI? ›

The Most Dangerous States for Drunk Driving
RankStateTotal Score Out of 100
4North Dakota89.05
4 more rows
Nov 18, 2022

What day of the year has the most DUI arrests? ›

Most Dangerous Days of the Week for DUI

Analysis of DUI fatalities that occurred between 2016 and 2020 shows that the most dangerous day of the week to drive in 2022 is Saturday, with Sundays being close behind.

What percentage of Americans get a DUI? ›

National averages. According to Insurify's data, 2.27 percent of drivers around the country have a prior citation for a DUI. Additionally, 12.70 percent of motorists have at least one prior accident on their driving record, and 17.78 percent of adults nationwide report excessive or binge drinking.

Is an interlock the same as a breathalyzer? ›

In simplest terms, an interlock device is an in-car breathalyzer that prevents a person from starting a car until a breath alcohol test is taken. An ignition interlock device is a proper term for devices sometimes referred to as “in-car breathalyzer” or “car interlock” or “blow and go”.

How do I apologize to my judge for a DUI? ›


All judges want to hear you be remorseful for what you did. Making excuses is intolerable and may make things worse. Never express being sorry for getting caught but instead, let the judge know that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions.

How do you get away with a drink driving charge? ›

It is possible to avoid a disqualification when convicted of drink driving if 'special reasons' not to endorse or disqualify can be successfully established. Any special reason put forward to the court asking them not to endorse or disqualify must relate directly to the commission of the drink driving offence.

Do I have to tell work about drink driving? ›

If your employer were to discover your conviction, you may be dismissed if you had not informed them of it. For employers who don't make it clear whether you should disclose convictions received during employment, then there is no legal obligation on you to do so.

What is the best defense for a DUI? ›

The Best DUI Defenses
  1. Suspect Not Given Opportunity to Contact an Attorney during the DUI Investigation. ...
  2. Breath Alcohol Testing Can Be Inaccurate. ...
  3. Illegal Stop of Person or Vehicle. ...
  4. Field Sobriety Test is Inaccurate or Invalid. ...
  5. No Evidence of Suspect Driving Vehicle or Being in Actual Physical Control.

How long do most DUI cases take? ›

A typical first-time DUI case will probably take between two and six months to conclude, depending on the complexity of the case and the schedule of the attorney.

What is the best case scenario for DWI in Texas? ›


A dismissal is without question the best case scenario if you have been charged with DWI. Dismissal's don't just happen because of the sheer force of will of your attorney, though. There must be factors present that make prosecuting you futile.

What are the consequences of a DUI in Washington state? ›

A first time DUI in WA State is normally charged as a gross misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. In all cases where a conviction is entered, there are mandatory minimum sentences, which a judge is required to impose and cannot reduce.


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