How long does a DWI stay on my driving record?

How Long It Stays

DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.”  A driver charged with a DWI is subject to imprisonment and/or heavy fines.  It varies by state, but usually a DWI will remain on your driving record for up to 10 years from the violation date.

DUI vs. DWI

Many people are unclear on the differences between a DWI and a DUI, or “driving under the influence” of drugs and alcohol.  Generally speaking, a DUI simply means that the driver has exceeded the state’s legal limit for blood alcohol content, regardless of whether they are actually intoxicated or impaired.  In some states, a DWI arrest involves a higher blood alcohol content than a DUI, meaning that a DWI is a more severe offense than a DUI.  It should be noted, however, that many states do not distinguish between a DUI and a DWI.

The Department of Motor Vehicles for each state retains driving records for all drivers licensed in that state.  If you are a licensed driver in any state in the U.S., your driving record contains a complete driving history, including record of driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), hit and run, reckless driving, accidents, moving violations, suspensions and revocations, among others.  The length of time a violation appears on the driving record varies by violation and by state, yet it is common for more serious convictions, such as a DWI, to remain on a driving record for up to 10 years.  Most moving violations and accidents remain on a driving record for up to 3 years.

Checking Your Record

If you received a DWI and would like to know if the violation remains on your driving record, you can obtain a copy of your driving record online.  You can order your driving record online much faster and easier than you can get it through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

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