Does DWI Show Up on a Background Check?

DWI background check

A DWI (driving while intoxicated) will undoubtedly appear on a criminal background check in Minnesota. Minnesota law prevents a person from operating a motor vehicle or boat with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater. A DWI can be both serious and extremely sensitive. A conviction can devastate many aspects of your life: your driving privileges, housing prospects, employment opportunities, and immigration status. Luckily, depending on the circumstances, you can get your record wiped clean under new Minnesota expungement laws. Here we’ll discuss what shows up on background checks, the consequences of DWIs, and how you can get help cleaning up your record.

What Shows Up on a Background Check? 

DWIs can be problematic for people looking to advance their careers. Employers may conduct background checks to determine if candidates are qualified for the job, but also because they want to know whether you will pose a safety risk to other employees or customers. And unfortunately, having a DWI or DWI conviction on your record can help your potential employer make that decision for you.

There are generally two types of background checks for employment: criminal records searches and credit checks.

Criminal background checks look for:

Credit checks look at:

  • Financial history
  • Bankruptcies
  • Judgments against you

Both types of searches can appear in a background check report, and both results can be used to determine whether to proceed with the hiring process. Background check companies can access your criminal history through public court documents, driving records, and other public databases. While a DWI conviction may not automatically be considered disqualifying by all employers, some businesses have strict no-tolerance policies for these charges.

Collateral Consequences of a DWI

A DWI is a serious offense in Minnesota. Even first-time offenders face jail time and a minimum loss of license for 30 days or more. But unfortunately, the consequences of a DWI reach far beyond the immediate criminal penalties.

After a conviction, your newfound criminal record can earn you a host of collateral consequences, including:

  • Inability to obtain or keep employment
  • Negative impact on the ability to apply for or maintain a professional license (nurse, teacher, lawyer, etc.)
  • A felony DWI will impact your right to vote and own a firearm
  • Housing challenges
  • Potential negative impact on obtaining a loan (car loan, mortgage, etc.)
  • A permanent blemish on commercial driver records

How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Minnesota?

Will a DWI show up on my driving record forever?

Yes—in Minnesota, a DWI will stay on your criminal record indefinitely. This is true even if it was your first and only criminal conviction. This conviction will appear on your criminal and driving record; however, it will only be criminally relevant for ten years after the conviction. If you are convicted of subsequent DWI convictions within the ten years following the first conviction, your charges and penalties will be automatically enhanced.

New Minnesota Expungement Laws May Make It Possible to Remove DWIs From Your Criminal Record

DWIs are a common offense that can have a lasting impact on your life. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make it easier to get back on track. New Minnesota expungement laws make it possible to remove DWIs from your record.

To petition for expungement of a DWI from your criminal record, one of the following must be true:

  • You completed a diversion program or stay of adjudication and have not been charged with a new crime for at least one year
  • You were convicted of a petty misdemeanor or misdemeanor and have not been convicted of a new crime for at least two years
  • You were convicted of a gross misdemeanor and have not been convicted of a new crime for at least four years

At this time, felony DWI offenses have not been added to the list of crimes able to be removed in Minnesota. However, these new laws do make it possible for more people to have their slate wiped clean.

Worried About a DWI on a Background Check? Get Help From a Minneapolis Criminal Defense Attorney

Were you convicted of a DWI in Minneapolis, MN? As you can see, a DWI conviction on your criminal record can be a significant obstacle to future employment or opportunities. Ultimately, your best bet is to contact a criminal defense attorney. Even if you think you have a pretty good shot at winning an expungement hearing, an attorney can save you loads of time, money, and aggravation. Alcohol or drug-related convictions are a tricky area of law. Your attorney will have more insight into the legalities involved and protect you from surprises down the road. Don’t delay – contact our attorneys at Martine Law today to discuss the process of sealing or expunging misdemeanor DWI convictions.

Author Bio

Xavier Martine

Xavier Martine is the Founder of Martine Law, a Minnesota criminal defense and family law firm. Serving clients in Minneapolis, MN, and surrounding areas, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of criminal matters, including DWIs, drug charges, misdemeanors, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. He also represents clients in family law matters, including divorce, child support, and child custody.

Xavier received his Juris Doctor from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys Under 40 in Minnesota” in 2021 by The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He was also named the “Best DUI Lawyer in Minneapolis” award in 2023 by and a “Rising Star” in 2023 by SuperLawyers.

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