How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?

A driving under the influence (DUI) charge will stay on your record for life in Massachusetts if convicted. A DUI arrest is not an admission of guilt, so there’s still time to hire an experienced attorney and prepare a defense. The only way to remove this from visibility in your criminal record is by applying to seal or expunge your record through the court system.

DUI Record

Sealing and expunging your criminal record is not easy and takes time, the best chance for you to remove a charge from your record is with the help of an experienced attorney who has specialized in DUI cases. Do not put your future at risk by keeping these incidents on your Massachusetts criminal record.

DUI Charge vs. Conviction

The main difference between a DUI charge compared to a conviction is that a conviction occurs in court when the defendant pleads guilty or the judge finds them guilty. A DUI charge occurs when police pull over a driver suspecting that they are operating a vehicle under the influence when they are arrested. At that point, you are being accused of a crime but not necessarily guilty. You will then attend your Preliminary Hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to go to trial.

A DUI conviction has greater consequences compared to a DUI charge. If you are arrested, that shows the officer had “probable cause” to pull you over. Legally, a conviction is “beyond a reasonable doubt” to believe that you were driving under the influence. Conviction comes with severe consequences, license suspension, and jail time. 

Sealing a Criminal Record in Massachusetts

To seal your criminal record you must file a petition that is offered through the state of Massachusetts. If you filed in the District Court, a judge will review your petition and the supporting documents to decide if you have met the requirements necessary. If they believe you have not, the judge can deny your petition without a hearing.

If a judge believes that you have met the requirements necessary to seal your record, they will notify you by mail when your court hearing will be held. Bring documentation and information that supports your case to support your petition. At the hearing, you will be represented by yourself or a lawyer and explain why you think there is good cause to seal your record. 

Who Can See Sealed Records?

Sealing your criminal record is a powerful way to protect your future after a Massachusetts criminal case. Once you have sealed your criminal record, it disappears from view for almost all purposes like employment applications, educational institutions, and landlords. When you can seal your record depends on the outcome of your case. 

If you have your Massachusetts records sealed, only a select few people can access them. Law enforcement has the jurisdiction to access your criminal record. In some cases, the state, town, or city can request to see it; for example, if you are applying for a license to carry a firearm. If you are in family court on child custody or domestic abuse cases, the family judge may decide to view your sealed record for evidence.

Sealing a criminal case limits who can see your criminal case records. Whereas, expungement destroys records, making them permanently unavailable to anyone. The circumstances of when you can request to seal or expunge your records all depend on the specifications of your case. 

Do Sealed Records Show Up on Background Checks?

Once you have sealed your criminal record, you can honestly reply that you do not have a record of any DUI convictions. You do not need to tell employers about a sealed record. The Massachusetts record-sealing statute permits you to truthfully answer “no record” of a criminal background if you have had a case sealed. 

Your sealed records should not show up on any background check for employers to access unless you are applying to work in law enforcement or get a firearm license. Once sealed, your records can be accessed by court order but are no longer part of the public record.

DUI Offenses

There are numerous DUI offenses and each depends on the number of times you have been charged with a DUI. The penalties are as follows:

First offense:

  • Up to 2 ½ years in jail 
  • $500-$5,000 in fines
  • 1-year license revocation 

Second offense: 

  • 60 days to 2 ½ years
  • $600-$10,000 in fines
  • 2 years license revocation

Third offense:

  • 180 days to 2 ½ years in jail or up to 5 years in prison
  • $1,000-$15,000 in fines
  • 8 years license revocation

Regardless of which DUI offense you are facing, each results in a considerable amount of penalties. If you have been charged with a DUI in Massachusetts, you need a team of attorneys on your side to help you fight the case. If you have already been convicted, consider requesting to clear your record of any criminal charges for the benefit of your future. Bonville & Howard has the experience you need to build a strong defense for your case. Contact Bonville & Howard at your earliest convenience to learn about your options from Fitchburg MA DUI attorneys.


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