The amount of time that a DUI conviction will stay on your record varies from state to state. Even in the most lenient of states, a DUI conviction will stay on your record for five years. In many states, it is actively reported to insurers, employers and other agencies for 10 years. In Massachusetts, a state with some of the strictest DUI laws, a DUI conviction will remain on your criminal record for as long as you live.
In Massachusetts, after 10 years, you can request that your DUI be removed from your public record. This is often a possibility for first-offenses, but the odds of having a second or third conviction removed from your permanent public record are slim. While this pertains to public information, your DUI conviction will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life.
A DUI conviction will remain on your criminal record forever. DUI laws for juveniles are largely discretionary in Massachusetts, and while you can request to destroy your criminal record after you turn 18 for crimes committed as a minor, there is no guarantee that the removal will be granted.
What is a conviction?
In some cases in Massachusetts, your trial may result in a "continuance without a finding" ruling. A continuance means that while there is enough evidence to find you guilty, both parties agree that it is not in the best interest of court resources to bring a full trial. A continuance is similar to a no contest plea, and can help because it is not technically a guilty plea, and you are not technically a convict. This has advantages for school and work, but remember that a continuance is considered the same as a guilty finding within the justice system. If you run into legal trouble in the future, your continuance finding for DUI will be regarded as a prior conviction.
What about subsequent charges?
Ten years after your first DUI, you can request that the charge be removed from your public record. While you can make this request for subsequent charges, it's unlikely that the request will be granted. Regardless of whether or not a charge is removed from your public record, a DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record for the rest of your life, and a second DUI will always be regarded as a second offense, even if you've managed to remove the initial DUI from your public record.
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Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I am twenty years of age. I was arrested for a California DUI. I am wondering what will happen to me now and what steps I need to take. Do I need to talk to a DUI lawyer?”