Last Updated: April 28th, 2021 at 1:13 pm
Read Time: 9 Minutes
How long does a DUI stay on your record in the state of Florida? Here at Weinstein Legal, we hear this question often. A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have lasting consequences, one of which is a permanent criminal record. What this means is that once you receive a conviction the charge will appear on any background check. Potential employers and landlords will be able to see the conviction and this can have a negative impact on your life.
If you are facing charges, contact Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal, an experienced DUI attorney in South Florida. Mr. Shafran has years of experience defending clients in court and can inform you of how long a DUI will stay on your record. Most importantly, he may be able to help get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
How Long A DUI Charge Stays on Your Record
According to Florida Statue 316.193, a DUI conviction cannot be expunged or sealed. Once you have a conviction it will remain on your record for 75 years. This is much longer than an individual typically remains driving–in theory a DUI will stay on your record forever.
However, just because the charge will remain on your record for 75 years does not mean that it will follow you around for the rest of your life. Do not be discouraged. Auto insurance companies only look for convictions dating back three to five years. Additionally, most employers and landlords only run background checks dating back a set amount of time (typically somewhere between five and seven years). Many individuals are relieved to know that one mistake will not tarnish their reputation permanently.
But a DUI conviction can make your life more challenging for a period of time. In addition to losing your driver's license, you will likely receive a higher insurance rate when companies see the mark on your record. If you are applying to jobs that require you to drive while on-the-clock you may have a difficult time finding employment, as a driver with a DUI conviction can be a liability to the company.
For this reason, you must hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. It may be possible to have your DUI charges reduced or dismissed.
Can You Get a DUI Expunged from Your Record in Florida?
When people ask if a DUI can be expunged from my record, the answer is it depends. A DUI conviction cannot be expunged, but if you were charged and not convicted, had your charges reduced, or your case was dismissed, you might be able to have these charges taken off your record.
That’s just one of the many important reasons to act quickly if you are arrested for a DUI. The best bet for avoiding a conviction is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight to keep your DUI from becoming a conviction.
Sealing or Expunging a DUI Charge or Arrest
Considering the severe consequences of even being arrested or charged with a DUI, and the lingering effect it can have on your life, it’s reasonable that you would want to have even these charges removed or expunged or to have your record sealed.
As mentioned, in Florida, you can’t have a DUI conviction expunged. It will be a permanent part of your record. However, you may be able to have your arrest record sealed if you were acquitted, your DUI was dismissed, or it was reduced to a less serious offense. By having your record sealed, it will not be accessible by the public or in a background check but will technically still be a part of your record.
According to Florida law, there are a specific set of circumstances that govern whether or not you can have a DUI arrest sealed. If your arrest meets one of these criteria, and there are no other circumstances that would keep your record from being sealed, you may be able to have your record sealed.
How to Seal Your Florida DUI Arrest Record
If you are arrested but not convicted, you may be able to get your DUI charge or arrest sealed so that it doesn’t show up on your public record. If the charges were dropped or the case was dismissed, you may be able to have the record sealed. In terms of background checks, this is as effective as having your DUI expunged since this part of your record will not be accessible. In addition, if your charges were changed to something like reckless driving, there is also a chance you have your arrest sealed.
To have your DUI arrest record sealed, your first step is to send a notarized application form to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FL DLE). You must also include a certified disposition from the court where your case was processed or the law enforcement agency under whose authority you were arrested.
If the Florida DLE agrees that you can have your record sealed, you will get a certificate declaring this status. In general, this certificate is valid for six months. Your next step will be to send a record clearance request to the court where your DUI charges were originally filed. You can get the application forms from that court’s clerk. This form must also be notarized.
Once this is done, your Florida DLE certificate of eligibility and all your documents must be filed, including your Florida DLE certificate of eligibility, with the clerk of the court. And another copy of the application needs to be sent to the office of the State Attorney.
You will then need to attend a hearing where you can offer the judge the reasons why your DUI arrest record should be sealed. This can be a lengthy, convoluted process, so it’s best to hire an attorney experienced with DUI cases and record sealing who can fight for your rights at a hearing.
Pleading Guilty to a Lesser Charge
If you are facing criminal charges for driving under the influence, hire a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the legal system and is experienced in DUI cases. You may be able to plead guilty to a lesser charge, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest.
If your blood alcohol content was not particularly high at the time of your arrest, there was no motor vehicle accident that took place, and no one was injured as the result of your driving your chances of being able to plead to a lesser charge are much higher. Additionally, if this is your first arrest for a DUI and you have no other prior criminal record, your chances at getting a plea bargain fare better.
You may be able to plead guilty to a reckless driving charge, or what is known as a "wet reckless" in the state of Florida. The good news is that if you plead guilty to reckless driving it may be possible to have the charge sealed at a later time. The charge will also come off your record much more quickly than a DUI.
Pretrial Diversion in the State of Florida
DUI Pretrial Diversion programs in the state of Florida are one way to keep a conviction off your record, preserving your reputation and avoiding the challenges that come with a conviction. DUI Pretrial Diversion programs entail various classes, and you must pay for them. You will also likely have to pay fines and court fees, complete community service hours, and you may have to complete a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.
Pretrial Diversion programs are somewhat similar to probation. You may have to submit to random drug tests and you will have a supervisory officer you must report to regularly.
However, Pretrial Diversion programs come with one significant benefit. If you successfully complete the program your DUI charge will likely be dismissed. It is essential that you hire a criminal defense attorney who can successfully argue your DUI case to the prosecutor's office and secure this deal for you.
How a DUI Attorney Can Help Your Case
Since the short answer to "how long does a DUI stay on your record?" is 75 years, and the consequences of a conviction can severely impact your life, you must hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced DUI lawyer will begin gathering evidence to prove your innocence right away. There are several things that may result in getting your case dropped.
An attorney will examine the following parts of your case:
- Did law enforcement have just cause to stop you?
- Was the breathalyzer test administered properly?
- Is it possible that the breathalyzer malfunctioned during use?
- Did you pass a field sobriety test?
- How high was your blood alcohol content?
- Did police read you your proper rights upon arrest?
- Were you granted the chance to speak with your lawyer upon request?
- Was all police protocol followed?
- Are all the reports regarding your arrest complete and accurate?
Remember, when police arrest you there are certain rights they must uphold. You never have to answer police questioning without an attorney present–if they tell you otherwise this is incorrect and it is a violation of your rights. Additionally, police must read you your Miranda Rights at the time of your arrest.
There are many other elements of your arrest that an attorney will look at. There is a lot of paperwork that accompanies an arrest report and police must complete these reports properly. Only a DUI defense attorney will know precisely what to look for when helping your case.
Protecting Your Record From DUI Charges
Now that you know how long a DUI stays on your record, it is imperative that you call Weinstein Legal as soon as possible if you are facing charges. It may be possible to have your charges reduced or dropped entirely. You may be able to plead guilty to reckless driving, a charge that does not carry such steep consequences. Or, you may be able to enter a Pretrial Diversion program and avoid having a mark on your criminal record at all. However, you need the help of an experienced and dedicated attorney.
As a former prosecutor in Palm Beach County, criminal defense attorney Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal is the attorney to get the job done. Whether you have been arrested in cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, or West Palm Beach, DUI defense lawyer Matt Shafran can handle the case for you. He has practiced in various courthouses across the state and South Florida. Mr. Shafran will work tirelessly to protect your rights, to prove your innocence, and to get you the best outcome possible in a court of law. From the moment you first contact Weinstein Legal, you will have access to your lawyer around-the-clock, no matter what day of the week or year it is.
For a FREE case evaluation and to see how the team at Weinstein Legal can help you with your DUI charges call 954-845-0505. We handle DUI cases throughout South Florida in both Broward and Palm Beach County.