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How long will a DWI stay on my record?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Getting pulled over and charged with driving under the influence can very quickly turn someone’s life upside down. Individuals worry about what happens next, what will happen in their future and how it will affect everything they planned.

These concerns often boil down to one question: how long will a DWI conviction stay on their records?

Remember: DWIs appear on two records

A DWI frequently leads to a combination of administrative penalties and criminal penalties. Along those same lines, DWI convictions also appear on two records: driving records and criminal records.

And how long a DWI stays on one’s record depends on the specific record in question:

  1. Criminal record: A drunk driving conviction remains on an individual’s criminal record forever. In some cases, it is possible for individuals to get records expunged, but they must meet certain conditions.
  2. Driving record: A DWI conviction stays on one’s driving record for seven years in North Carolina. These seven years are the look-back period.

The look-back period informs whether individuals face charges – and penalties – for a first offense or a second offense. For example, if someone faces DWI charges twice within seven years, the second time results in a second offense. However, if they face charges again seven years or more after their first DWI, it would be a first offense. Therefore, even though a conviction only stays on one’s driving record for seven years, it still poses a significant risk during that period.

Convictions on both records can negatively affect the future

The impacts that DWI convictions have on both one’s driving record and criminal record demonstrate why individuals must take charges seriously. If they do not, a conviction could continue to interfere with their lives long after the fact.

Any background checks involve reviews of criminal records. Some also include a review of one’s driving record in some cases. The appearance of a DWI on these records can significantly affect:

  • Employment and professional connections
  • Housing applications
  • Insurance costs and premiums

Obtaining skilled defense and fighting DWI charges is important to manage these risks, as well as protect individuals’ futures.