If you’re one of the thousands of people who’ve received a DUI in the state of California, any Los Angeles DUI lawyer can tell you that’s a difficult position to be in. Many states have made it so that getting a DUI is far from a slap on the wrist. The goal is to punish drivers as harshly as possible for risking the lives of others by drinking and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

For those with a DUI, the punishment might seem too harsh. It can cost thousands of dollars in fees as well as a record which isn’t going away anytime soon. So, how long will it stay on your record? In the state of California, the DMV will keep a DUI on your record for as long as 10 years. That’s a full decade, and during that time, the DMV will use the DUI to make several decisions about whether you can reinstate your license.

What might be the worst part about this for a person with a DUI is that they are unable to get it pulled from their driving record until that 10 years is over. It will be stuck with you throughout the entire term. What you might consider good news is that the DUI will not appear on any check made by potential employers, nor is it considered part of your criminal record. Only the DMV can see and make use of the DUI to make decisions.

It was set in 2007 when California decided to up the penalty for driving while under the influence. The previous penalty used to be seven years, but it was increased in several states that have decided to crack down and make the punishment for getting a DUI much more severe. Let’s take a look at several factors included.

DUI Points on Your Record

Most states, including California, use a point system to help track whether someone has risky driving behavior or not. If you get pulled over a lot, get a lot of tickets, or even have been caught driving under the influence, you will have points added to your record. Everyone starts out with zero points from the moment they get their first license. But, if you’re regularly caught speeding, or you cause an accident, or other factors can add points to your record.

As the points accumulate, they will work against you. It might impact how much you pay for car insurance. They may even prevent you from renewing your driver’s license. The DMV will also use points to determine whether your license should be suspended indefinitely. The more points you have, the riskier you are in being on the road, so the state will take action to keep you from driving.

The more your points are spread out over time, the easier it will be for you. But if you start accumulating a lot of points in a short amount of time, the DMV will know that there’s something seriously wrong. You can have your license suspended if you get four or more points in just a two-year span. If you get six or more in three years or eight or more points in four years, they will most likely suspend you.

DUIs add two points to your license, which is the highest amount of points given out in any particular infraction. They also take the longest to have removed from your license. While the DUI might be removed from your record at 10 years, the points will stay on for 13 years and there’s nothing you can do to shorten the amount of time the points will stick around.

You can have other points removed by taking the necessary steps a judge or the DMV might allow you to do. For example, if you go to traffic school, that might be good enough to get the points from a number of driving violations taken off.

Old DUIs vs. New DUIs

The state of California also wants to punish drivers who have a continuing record of DUIs. The goal is to stop people from drinking and driving, so if you get a DUI, it will hit your record hard. But if you continue drinking while driving, and you get a second or third DUI, each one will be taken more seriously than the previous ones. Each DUI you get within that 10-year period will add on different penalties.

The ten-year period in which the DUI stays on your record starts at the exact day on which you are arrested. If you had a previous DUI 11 years ago, then the older one will not count against you. Yet, if you had a DUI eight or nine years ago, the most recent will be considered a second charge and the next one within that same time period will be considered a third charge, each charge increasing the penalty.

Getting the DUI Off Your Record

While DUIs add points and stay on your DMV record, it’s also considered a criminal offense and will stay on your criminal record for life. DUIs are only a misdemeanor (and sometimes a felony if the circumstances warrant, like an accident or a death as a result of drunk driving). Because they stay on your criminal history, having a DUI can be used against you when you’re trying to find work or apply for a professional license.

That’s why if you have a DUI charge, you should contact a criminal defense attorney to see if you can get it expunged from your record. This is a real possibility, especially if you’ve only had one DUI and you’ve already served all the time, paid all your fees, and can prove you’re an upstanding citizen. Getting the charge removed off your criminal record may be the only way to get your life back without worrying about disclosing a DUI to a potential employer.