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If you have ever been convicted of a DUI you already know that this conviction can have serious impacts on all aspects of your life. You may have lost your driver’s license for a period of time, required to take classes such as safe driving and alcohol education, made to serve jail time, and required to pay very hefty fines. You may also have had to pay a fortune for car insurance due to the necessity of filing an SR-22 with your state. All that is behind you now; you have your license back, have served your time and taken your classes, paid your fines, and are ready to begin driving again. Unfortunately, you may find that in some respects your problems are just beginning.
DUIs can stay on your driving record indefinitely, depending on how your state’s laws are structured
In some state, the Department of Motor Vehicles is required to remove, or expunge, your record after a certain number of years. This means that no one will be able to see your DUI after the statutory period has passed. In other states, however, your record is only expunged if you request this service; otherwise, the DUI will still be on your record many years in the future. In a few states, such as Alaska, DUIs stay on your driving record forever; you cannot have them expunged.
Get a copy of your DMV Record
The first step in clearing your record is to get a copy of your driving record. You can fill out a simple form at most DMVs, provide identification, and receive a printed copy of your driving record. Review it carefully to see what is on your report.
Next, find out about your particular state’s laws
A call or a visit to your state’s DMV website should give you an answer. If you find that your state automatically clears your record after a certain number of years, you simply have to wait out that period to have a clean driving record. If you find that your record can only be cleared by request, you can make this request at the proper time to the DMV, or hire a lawyer to help you.
Why does it matter what is on your driving record ten years from now?
There are several instances where someone will want to see your driving record and you may not be thrilled about showing your DUI to that person or agency. For example, many employers ask for a driving report covering a certain number of years when you apply for a job, especially if the job involves travel. If your DUI falls within that period, you may not be hired for the job, even if your other qualifications are very good.
You are also required to disclose any felony convictions when you apply for most jobs, so if your state convicted you as a felon for a DUI, you must disclose this on your application or be guilty of a crime. Not all states prosecute DUIs as felonies for first offenses, so it is important to understand your state’s rules. If you are unsure about your conviction, visit the court where you received your fine and ask to see your record.
You may also be concerned about a DUI’s affect on your ability to get low-cost insurance. Most insurance companies limit the number of years they review when they look at your driving record, so if your DUI was long in the past, you probably will not have anything to worry about. However, if the DUI remains on your driving record, an insurance company can see it, and may decide to hike your insurance rates as a result.
A DUI conviction does not have to be the end of the world, but it is very important never to get another one after your first. While one DUI conviction as a young person will not turn away most employers or insurance companies, especially if the conviction was a number of years in the past, repeated DUIs are a red flag to everyone. Most employers will want nothing to do with a repeat DUI offender, and most insurance companies will not offer coverage to anyone who has had more than one DUI, even if those DUIs were several years apart. If you have more than one DUI conviction, you will probably have to seek insurance on the secondary market. This means that you will pay much higher premiums than those who can shop at mainstream insurance companies.