How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in North Carolina?

How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in North Carolina?

Sep 12, 2023 | Traffic Violations

A DWI conviction is something that will appear on your criminal record. Even if you win your case in North Carolina and are not convicted, an arrest will appear on your record. These things can have significant and lasting consequences. A criminal record can negatively impact significant parts of a person’s life.

Things like the job and career opportunities available to you may be more limited. The same may be the case with regard to educational opportunities, and even getting credit can be more difficult in some cases with a criminal record. This leads many people to wonder what to do about the situation.

How Long Will a DWI Be on Your Record?

The length of time that something is on your record depends on the nature of the charge. The more serious the charges, the longer that they will appear on your record. Having anything on your record can affect everything from employment prospects to educational opportunities and financial options available to you. In the case of a DWI conviction, these are considered to be serious charges and will remain on your record permanently.

Many people may believe that a DWI charge falls off after ten years. This is because penalties for multiple DWIs in a ten-year period are greater than offenses with none in the prior ten years. However, just because they fall off for sentencing purposes after ten years does not mean that they are off the criminal record. While there is the opportunity for expungement for some crimes, DWI offenses are not eligible.

When Can a DWI Charge Be Expunged?

While DWI convictions cannot be expunged from your criminal record, it’s worth noting that DWI arrests can be. Many people may not be aware that the arrest remains on the record even if they were found not guilty or the charges were dropped. However, they do remain unless you petition to have them expunged from your record. The process, though, can be complex and could take nine months or more.

Any error in the process could lead to further delays, so if you have a DWI arrest that you need to be expunged as quickly as possible, it may be a good idea to work with a DWI Attorney in Hickory, NC to ensure you are following the proper process.


Q: How Do You Defend Against a DWI Charge?

A: Defense against a DWI charge will often vary depending upon the particulars of the arrest and how the DWI was assessed. In some situations, there may have been a procedural error on the part of the arresting officer that offers an avenue for defense. For instance, the officer should have probable cause to pull you over in the first place and must be able to defend that cause.

If you were given a chemical test to determine the substance levels in your system, then it may be possible to challenge the validity of the tests or argue that proper protocols weren’t followed. Similar arguments may be made against field sobriety tests as well.

Q: What Are the Penalties for a DWI?

A: Sentencing for a DWI is determined by a number of different factors. Among those things considered are mitigating factors like whether or not it is a person’s first offense, if they were still driving safely despite the DWI, and the results of a substance abuse evaluation. Also considered are aggravating factors like if the driver was driving recklessly, if there was an accident and injuries involved, if there were any prior convictions, and if their blood alcohol content was over 0.15%.

Depending on this mix of factors, a DWI conviction could result in probation and a minor fine. In more serious cases, though, drivers can face significant and possible permanent license revocations, substantial fines, and years in jail.

Q: How Can a Lawyer Help if I’ve Been Charged With a DWI?

A: A DWI lawyer can be critical to defending against charges. They will investigate your case to understand what the prosecution may argue against you and how the accusations may be defended against. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to get a case dismissed before it even goes to trial. In other cases, they could successfully challenge certain evidence before the trial, and the prosecution may withdraw the charges, lacking enough evidence to make the case.

If the case does end up going to trial, you can count on the lawyer to represent you, defend against the prosecution’s case, and try to create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. Throughout the process, they are also responsible for helping protect your rights and ensuring that the opportunity you are given for your defense is a fair one.

Q: What Is a DWI in North Carolina?

A: There are a few different ways that a driver in North Carolina may be charged with a DWI. These include:

  • A blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% or higher
  • A BAC of 0.4% or higher when operating a commercial vehicle
  • Any alcohol present for a driver under the age of 21
  • Any presence of a Schedule 1 substance in a person’s system
  • Significant impairment as a result of any alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription or over-the-counter medication

Get Help With Your DWI

The most effective way to avoid getting a DWI on your record is to avoid a conviction in the first place. If you’re facing charges in Catawba County, it’s important that you find a legal team to work with that you feel confident will put forth a strong defense. If you have been convicted, it may be that there is an appeal option for your case, and an attorney could help you understand if that may be a possibility for you.

If you’ve been arrested, but your case was dismissed, or you weren’t found guilty, it’s a good idea to get that arrest expunged from your record. Working with a lawyer can help that process move more efficiently. Whatever your DWI concerns, at the Law Office of Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC, we can put our deep knowledge and extensive experience handling these concerns to work for you. Contact us for help today.