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If you’re asking how long does DWI stay on record in Minnesota, unfortunately there is no simple answer. In some ways, law enforcement will always have access to any records of your arrest and conviction. While there may a record of your DWI somewhere for the rest of your life, the ability of the record to impact your life can diminish over time.

In fact, state law now allows for DWI expungements in some cases. An expungement could remove the records related to your DWI conviction from public view, allowing you to answer truthfully on job applications that you have not been convicted of a crime. Contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller to learn more about the impact of a DWI conviction.

Minnesota’s Look-back Period

While a conviction for DWI can cause serious problems in your search for housing or employment, the most significant consequence of a conviction is its impact on future DWI arrests. In many cases, prior convictions could greatly increase the maximum penalty of a new DWI arrest. In fact, a prior DWI conviction is the most important factor in determining the sentencing range for a new offense.

That said, the prosecution may not consider every DWI you have ever been convicted of. When you’re asking how long does DWI stay on record in Minnesota, this is a factor to consider. Under state law, only convictions that have occurred in the previous 10 years are considered. This is known as the state’s “look-back” period.

While the 10-year look-back period can see the consequences of a future arrest diminish over time, that does not mean the record of your conviction goes away. Unfortunately, a DWI conviction will remain on both your criminal and driving record forever. This means that future background checks will turn up the record of your arrest and conviction, even though it cannot be used against you during sentencing any further.


For years, expungement was never a possibility for DWI convictions under Minnesota state law. For the most part, expungements were difficult to come by in general. The good news is that in 2015, Minnesota law changed. These changes now allow expungements for certain offenses under very specific circumstances.

Expungements are not available until a person has competed their sentence entirely. This requires more than just finishing up any jail time that was ordered. It also includes the completion of any probation as well. Often, a person could face substantial probation even though they do not spend much time behind bars.

There is also a time requirement. A person may not seek an expungement the moment they complete their sentence. The amount of time a person must wait depends on the specific type of criminal offense involved. This varies, as a DWI could be a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony. A person must wait for two years following a misdemeanor to seek an expungement. For gross misdemeanors, that time limit is years.

Consider an example. A person was arrested and convicted of a gross misdemeanor DWI. That person was sentenced to 30 days in jail and year of probation. The person must complete the 30 days in jail and then finish the year of probation before the time limit begins to run. Once probation is complete, this individual would have to wait an additional four years to file their petition. Additionally, they must also avoid any new criminal offenses while waiting for the expungement.

While these changes are good news for many people, the reality is that many expungements will be denied. The courts retain substantial discretion to grant these petitions or not. For many, meeting the minimum requirements for an expungement will not be enough.

Talk to Gerald Miller About Avoiding a Conviction

The existence of expungement options and a look-back period is good news for Minnesota motorists facing DWI charges. While these factors are helpful, they are only minor benefits compared to the steep consequences of a DWI conviction.

If you’ve been charged but not yet convicted of a DWI, you may be wondering how long does DWI stay on record in Minnesota. Given what is at stake, your best option is to avoid a DWI conviction entirely. DWI cases are often defensible, and our team has extensive experience taking on the prosecution and winning. Let the attorneys of Gerald Miller advise you of your defense options. To get started, schedule your free consultation right away.

Kyle Dreger

Kyle Dreger is a skilled DUI/DWI and Criminal Defense lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. Kyle has received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is also a professionally trained basketball player.


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