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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Cmelik Law PLC

How long does a DUI stay on your record in Iowa?

For your criminal record, the answer is: life. The Iowa Department of Public Safety defines "life" as 80 years. Once you hit age 80, they will begin to purge your criminal convictions from the public record.

So where does the 12 years come in? As far as lifetime convictions, it doesn't. You either are convicted or you are not. For purposes of enhancing your current prosecution for drunk driving, e.g., classifying it as a serious misdemeanor, aggravated misdemeanor, or felony, the prosecutor and the court may consider only the last 12 years from date of conviction to date of newest occurrence.


Prior criminal convictions for Operating While Intoxicated or an out of state DUI equivalent may not be used to enhance the legal range of penalty for a current prosecution if such convictions are older than 12 years. However, the prosecutor may use them to fashion a harsher plea offer and the judge may use them to impose a harsher sentence within the legal range.

For example, if a defendant has five prior OWIs older than 12 years, they may be charged only with a serious misdemeanor OWI prosecution. But they will not likely receive an offer that includes the mandatory minimum 48 hour jail sentence and fine. The range of penalty for a serious misdemeanor is between 48 hours and one year in jail. The prosecutor is free to fashion an offer that reflects the seriousness of the lifetime sixth offense for Operating While Intoxicated and the judge is free to take those five prior convictions into account-- even though they are older than 12 years.


Therefore, such criminal convictions emphatically do not “fall off” your criminal record nor do they automatically become expunged. Indeed, there is no way to expunge an OWI conviction in the State of Iowa as drunk driving convictions are excluded from the expungement statute. Only a deferred judgment grantee can expunge an OWI prosecution—even then, it will count for purposes of penalty enhancement in future drunk driving prosecutions in the State of Iowa within 12 years.


Contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC for your Iowa drunk driving arrest, called Operating While Intoxicated, or, OWI, in Iowa, and DUI in other states.  


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