A DUI in Indiana can potentially stay on your record forever, but there are ways for it to be removed within a relatively short time.
Given that a DUI is a black mark on your record that can affect college acceptance, scholarships, employment prospects, housing opportunities, and even your insurance rates, it is worth exploring if and when it can be erased from your criminal record.
There is no timeframe for a DUI naturally “falling off” your record, but with the help of an attorney, you can have it removed. Valpo DUI Attorney Mark Worthley of Worthley Law has been helping Indiana residents navigate this process. If you have been convicted of a DUI and you would like it removed from your record, contact Worthley Law. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call (219) 575-8565 or fill out our online form.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Indiana?
This seemingly straightforward question has four different answers, depending on the nature of the charge and how you ultimately fight.
One of four scenarios is possible:
- You successfully beat the DUI charge. A finding of not guilty, a vacated judgment, or an outright dismissal means you won’t be convicted of a DUI. The arrest, however, will still be a black mark on your record. To have it removed, you can petition the court one year after the date of your arrest to expunge the record.
- When the record is expunged, it is not necessarily removed, but it will be sealed from public access.
You were convicted of a Class C misdemeanor. Whether you pled guilty or were found guilty at trial, you have a DUI conviction on your record. After five years, you can file an expungement for the arrest and the conviction. The clock starts ticking on the date of your conviction.
- You were convicted of a Level 6 felony. Here, if the final criminal charge can be mitigated from felony to misdemeanor, the same five-year timeframe from a misdemeanor conviction will apply. However, if the charge sticks and you are ultimately convicted of a Level 6 felony, eight years must pass before you can request an expungement.
- You were convicted of a Level 5 felony. There’s no hardline rule for how long a DUI stays on your record if your DUI charge results in a Level 5 felony conviction.
A Level 4 or Level 5 felony conviction for a DUI charge results when serious bodily injury or death is associated with intoxicated driving. Depending on the circumstances, the conviction might not be eligible for expungement.
The recommended course of action here is to speak with an attorney to discuss your options.
Note About Level 1-6 Felonies
In Indiana, charges for unlawful acts are classified or graded by levels. The lower the number, the more serious the charge. This means that a Level 5 felony is a more serious charge than a Level 6 felony. On the felony scale, a Level 6 felony is the least serious, and a Level 1 felony is the most.
Generally, all felony convictions result in jail time, ranging from six months to 40 years. A Level 1 felony applies to charges for aggravated rape, drug deals where someone dies, or a home invasion in which the victim or another party sustains a serious injury.
A felony DUI charge can be either a Level 4, 5, or 6 felony. The level depends on various circumstances surrounding the activity, including:
– Whether you were driving with passengers in the vehicle
– Whether you have previous DUI charges
– Whether someone was injured or killed
– The concentration of your blood alcohol content (BAC)
Not all DUIs are charged as felonies. As noted above, a DUI conviction can also be a misdemeanor offense. The default for most DUI charges is, in fact, a misdemeanor. This is especially true if it is your first offense. Of the two misdemeanor charges for DUI in Indiana, there is Class A or Class C. Class A is a more serious offense that involves a higher BAC and endangering someone while operating the vehicle.
Benefits of Expungement
A DUI can stay on your record indefinitely unless you take proactive steps to have it expunged. While this method doesn’t delete the conviction entirely, it does remove it from public view, so someone doing a background check or Google search will have no clue you were ever arrested or convicted for a DUI.
Even if you’re not concerned about college, employment, or housing prospects, the financial strain of a DUI conviction could be a motivator for expungement.
For example, when you apply for auto insurance, the insurance company will examine your driving record and adjust your rates accordingly. In Indiana, it’s estimated that a DUI conviction spikes rates by up to 65%.
By having the record expunged, you get a clean slate. You can honestly answer “no” to the question, “have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DUI?”
Not every DUI is eligible for expungement, but if this opportunity is afforded to you, it can be a good idea to take it.
Potential Defensive Strategies for a DUI
For someone charged with a DUI but not yet convicted, there are several defensive strategies that can result in the charges being reduced or dropped altogether. An attorney can advocate on your behalf to challenge the charge based on circumstances that involve how the test was administered, your arrest, and how you were pulled over.
Test validity issues
To be convicted of a DUI, the prosecution must prove that your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. In all 50 states, including Indiana, that number is 0.08 percent. An officer can test your BAC using one of three methods:
- Blood test
- Urine sample
There are several issues that can occur with either how an officer administered the test or interpreted the results. An attorney will scrutinize the test and look for any errors or faulty protocols that can result in the test not being admissible as evidence.
Without this crucial element, the prosecution is often unable to prove that you were driving under the influence (DUI) or operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI).
At the scene of an accident or when you are pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving, an office may perform a field sobriety test, which could include the use of a tool called a Breathalyzer.
This tool is far from perfect, and it has an estimated margin of error of 50%. Some of the variables that can affect the accuracy of a Breathalyzer include:
– Toothpaste, gum, or mouthwash
– Heartburn or acid reflux
– Heart disease
– Fever (increased body temperature increases BAC)
– Gum disease
– Liver disease
Any of the above items has the potential to artificially increase BAC or result in a false positive. Further, a Breathalyzer (because it is testing your breath) is not directly measuring your blood alcohol content. In addition to the list above, it also turns out that the Breathalyzer tool is also influenced by the subject’s age, gender, how quickly they consumed alcohol, and even their emotional state.
As you can imagine, an attorney will have multiple avenues to explore.
Blood Test and Urine Analysis Issues
Though blood and urine tests tend to be more accurate than a breath test, the tests are not infallible.
A number of things can go wrong in the administration and analysis of the test, including:
– Lack of sterilization
– Improper storage
– Mistaken identity (mixing up different subjects’ results)
– Coagulation or fermentation (blood tests)
– Passage of time (urine tests)
Probable Cause Issues
Though DUI checkpoints are generally held to be legal in Indiana, there are other probable cause issues that can result if the police pulled you over.
For example, were you swerving, driving erratically, or did you break a traffic law? If you were pulled over without cause, you might have a valid defense to your DUI charge.
DUI Expungement Representation in Indiana
Unlike a bankruptcy or delinquency that eventually disappears from your credit report, a DUI will remain a part of your criminal history forever unless you take action to have it removed. With over 14 years of experience, Attorney Mark Worthley of Worthley Law will explore every possible avenue to secure an expungement. Call (219) 575-8565 for a free consultation.