Nobody wants a criminal conviction to follow them around forever, but the fact of the matter is that one mistake can haunt you for the rest of your life. If you get in serious trouble with the law, it’s certainly possible that you will be feeling the effects of that decision for years or even decades. But is that true for a DWI? In today’s blog, we explain how long a DWI will stay on your record and some of the long-term implications of a DWI conviction.
How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Criminal Record
Unless you attempt to get the conviction expunged, a drunk driving conviction will stay on your criminal record for the rest of your life. This means that the DWI will show up on background checks or when police run your name through their system until the day you die. However, a DWI conviction will only serve as an enhanceable penalty for 10 years. After 10 years, any future DWI arrests will be treated as a first offense.
Under Minnesota law, certain actions serve as potential enhancers to a criminal charge. For example, a run-of-the-mill first offense DWI in Minnesota will usually be treated as a fourth degree DWI, which is a misdemeanor, unless certain aggravating factors are present. If you have a BAC over 0.16, there are minors in the vehicle or you have previously been convicted of a DWI, your charge may be upgraded to a third degree or even a second degree DWI, which carry more severe penalties. As we mentioned above, a DWI conviction will only serve as an aggravating factor for 10 years, so if you earned a DWI in 2009 and were again arrested in 2023, the second arrest would be treated as a first offense since you are outside of that 10-year window.
So when it comes to a DWI impacting a future criminal case, you really only need to worry about the 10 years following your conviction. After 10 years, the DWI can’t be used to enhance a future DWI charge, but there’s a possibility that the DWI could cause some issues for your career or within your social circles, which is why some people consider getting their DWI expunged.
Minnesota expanded expungement protections in 2015, meaning that people convicted of misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor DWIs could get their conviction expunged. This means that the conviction would not show up in a public records search, but judges and law enforcement would still have a record of the DWI conviction. There is no guarantee that your DWI will be expunged just because you petitioned for expungement, and oftentimes it is helpful to have a lawyer by your side to make sure your argument is solid. After all, you need to prove that the benefits of the expungment outweigh the potential drawbacks and community risk of expunging the crime, so you’re going to need to come prepared and make a compelling argument. We’ve helped a number of clients get their crime expunged, and if you feel like that decision is right for you, we can help.
A DWI will stay on your criminal record for life in Minnesota, unless you successfully get the crime expunged, and even then there will still be some records of the crime. The 10 years immediately after the crime are the most important in terms of staying out of additional trouble, as the DWI can enhance some future charges. After 10 years, the original crime will no longer be used as a potential aggravating factor.
You may be able to get the crime expunged, but it won’t be easy and it will cost money, which is why we always recommend fighting a DWI charge on the front end. Let us help you avoid a conviction altogether. For more information, or for help with a different criminal issue, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.