DUI Records: What They Are, How They May Affect You, And Why You Should Try To Find Them


Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

What are DUI's and DUI records?

DUI records may be part of an individual's criminal records, and may be available through a people search or a background check. 'DUI' is the acronym for 'driving under the influence.' This term is often confused with 'DWI,' which signifies 'driving while intoxicated.' States or jurisdictions may use one or the other to reference a similar event, while some use both. Both terms may be used to describe drunk or impaired driving (which may occur due to illicit drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, or any substance that may cause this). However, the distinction between a DUI and a DWI gets tricky when states use both. It may be wise to check the laws of your state or jurisdiction to get clear definitions of both. In both cases, these records pertain directly to events during which an individual was suspected of a DUI, which some states and jurisdictions define as specifically drunk driving.

More often than not, DUI's are classified as misdemeanors. This conviction may entail a punishment, such as a fine, and jail time. Some jurisdictions may require those convicted of a DUI to attend DUI classes. However, a DUI may be classified as a felony in some cases, such as if you earned more than one DUI in a given amount of time, if someone was injured in a drunk driving accident, or if you were driving while drunk with a suspended license. These criteria depend on the state in which the infraction occurred.

Often, DUI checkpoints are set up by local police--to ensure that drivers on the road are sober and not driving while under the influence or intoxicated--by using breathalyzers and a number of sobriety tests, like asking a person to walk in a straight line. BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) limits vary by state, but law enforcement agents may direct a driver to park their vehicle for inspection if their driving or other behavior suggests any signs of intoxication, regardless of what a driver's designated BAC level ultimately proves to be.

DUI records are public records and can therefore be accessed by the public, but their online availability may depend on whether or not the state or jurisdiction in which the infraction occurred opts to digitizes such records. These records may contain additional information concerning the individual who was arrested for driving under the influence, such as the location and date of the offense and the court case number.

How Can I Access DUI Records?

As with the online availability of DUI records, the opportunity to access DUI records as part of larger court records largely depends on the specific state or jurisdiction in which the infraction occurred. Unless the DUI was part of a larger case whose records were sealed or expunged, they should be available either online, through a search engine or background check website, or through the court where records are not yet digitized. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, you may need to pay a fee to access this information.

How can DUI records affect me, and why should I try to find them?

Obtaining data of this variety may be prudent and prove most valuable in the long run for a variety of reasons. If you are searching for yourself, you may be better educated by being aware of the information available about you that is already available to strangers, and you may be better prepared to answer related questions should they arise. If you are concerned about an individual's safety, you can try and search for their DUI records. Similarly, if you are suspicious about someone's motives, you may want to check up on their criminal records, including any DUI records contained therein.

In a similar vein, you may want to check if there are DUI records under your name that do not truly belong there. Errors like these can occur at the time that data entry clerks digitize records. If this is indeed the case, you may want to contact the courthouse in that jurisdiction to correct the mistake, before it follows you further.

Bear in mind, however, that if you are able to find your or another's DUI records, you may wish to remain cautious when analyzing such information. Both an arrest on suspicion of a DUI with or without a subsequent charge may show up on the records, and it is possible that the given individual was never charged or was exonerated.

How long can a DUI stay on my record, and how can I expunge my record?

The length of time that a DUI stays on your driving record depends on the state. For example, a DUI may stay on a driver's record for ten (10) years. However, evidence of an infraction may be available indefinitely through arrest records, court records, or rap sheets.

You may be able to expunge or seal your record, depending on the state in which you live. However, one or both of these options are not available everywhere. In New York, for example, you cannot expunge a DUI record, but you may be able to seal it. This doesn't mean that it's erased from your public record, but that it can only be accessed by specific people under the right circumstances, such as employers from companies that require you to handle a weapon, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, and the military (only if you decide to enlist). To see if you can completely remove the infraction from your record, you may wish to contact the appropriate agency authorities.

What will you find out?