How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?
DUI convictions in Florida remain on your record for 75 years after the conviction. If you are convicted of any crime in Florida, the conviction will become a part of your criminal record. This public record is a full summary of any convictions, arrests, time served on probation, and other interactions you have had with the criminal justice system. While some minor offenses fall off your record after just a few years, DUIs are different.
A DUI is likely to remain on your record for the rest of your natural life. Whenever you submit applications for employment, housing, insurance, and sometimes even loans, having a criminal record can negatively impact the outcome. This is why many people who are arrested for this offense hire criminal defense lawyers to combat these charges in court.
You Cannot Expunge a DUI From Your Criminal Record
Once you get convicted of a DUI, that’s it––it’s on your record forever. Unlike in some other states, you cannot apply to have the criminal offense expunged, meaning that it would be non-viewable to certain parties through background checks.
The best way to avoid having a DUI on your criminal record is to avoid getting convicted in the first place. Until a judge and jury render a verdict, you’re innocent until proven guilty. It’s up to the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and compel a jury of your peers to convict you. As noted, during this process, you may opt to work with a DUI lawyer who can build your defense strategy and clear your name.
What Is Florida’s DUI Standard?
Under Florida law, a driver commits the offense of “driving while under the influence” (DUI) anytime they operate a motor vehicle without full control of their normal faculties due to alcohol and/or drug use. In the case of alcohol, the legal threshold for DUI is a blood alcohol level (BAL) at or above .08. Florida’s law enforcement community takes DUIs very seriously. Every day, they actively patrol Florida’s streets and highways, looking to take intoxicated drivers off the streets.
Police Look for Signs of Intoxication When Pulling Over Drivers
If you are pulled over by the police, and they suspect you of DUI, they may conduct field sobriety tests to determine your sobriety level. In fact, many DUI arrests begin with traffic stops for moving violations, such as speeding or failure to wear a seatbelt. Once the traffic stop begins, police are specifically trained to observe motorists for signs of possible intoxication, which include:
- Erratic driving (e.g., swerving back and forth in lanes, driving recklessly)
- Glassy or bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Smell of alcohol
- An open container of alcohol in plain view
If you’re stopped at one of these checkpoints, and the police believe you are intoxicated, they will arrest you without exception.
The Criminal Penalties if You’re Convicted of a DUI
Per the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), the penalties you could face if convicted of a DUI depend on many things, including your BAL level and whether you have previous convictions. Consider the following:
- First-offense DUI, BAL above .08: Up to six months in jail, a fine between $500 and $1,000, and a 10-day impound of your vehicle
- First-offense DUI BAL above .15: Up to nine months in prison and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000, plus a 10-day impound of your vehicle
- Second-offense DUI BAL above .08: Up to nine months in jail, a fine between $1,000 and $2,000, and a 30-day impound of your vehicle if a previous conviction was within the last five years
- Second-offense DUI BAL above .15: Up to 12 months in jail and a fine between $2,000 and $4,000 (if a previous offense conviction was within the last five years)
Florida also has penalties for repeat offenders, which would include someone convicted of a third DUI conviction within the last ten years or a fourth DUI conviction within any timeframe. This is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000.
The Consequences of a DUI Conviction Go Beyond the Legal System
Jail time, license suspension, and fines are just some complications you could face with a DUI conviction. Because the offense stays on your record forever, you will have to explain this unfortunate incident to prospective landlords, employees, and even lenders for decades to come. You could also have problems getting certified and holding professional licenses with a conviction on your record.
Other possible complications include:
- Problems retaining custody of your children
- Issues getting residency in some affordable housing communities
- Being unable to rent vehicles
- Restrictions on your driver’s license (e.g., only being able to drive to and from work)
- Elevated auto insurance rates
- Refusal to be insured by some insurance companies
It’s so important to avoid a DUI conviction if possible, and you can do this by partnering with a criminal defense lawyer. They can outline weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, highlight any violation of your rights, and compel the jury to render a “not guilty” verdict.
If avoiding a DUI isn’t possible, your lawyer may also work with the prosecution on a plea deal. This may involve having your DUI reduced to the lower charge of reckless driving. In that instance, reckless driving could get expunged from your record in some circumstances.
Explore Your Options After a DUI Arrest With a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Florida, the consequences of a conviction can be life-altering. With a conviction, you could literally spend the rest of your life explaining away one bad night. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way.
At Meldon Law, our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience advocating for defendants. We get “not guilty” verdicts and criminal charges reduced all the time. We want to win your case, so you can live your best possible life. Call now for a free case evaluation.