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What To Know About DUI Expungement

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

Being convicted of a DUI can be terrifying in pretty much every way. It’s scary to be arrested; then you have to deal with the court proceedings. It’s expensive to deal with, and you’re likely going to lose your license, along with other potential penalties. Then, beyond those devastating effects, you have to think about the long-term ramifications.

Background checks done by employers and even landlords can show a DUI, although it should be noted that as of 2018 in California, employers can’t inquire into a job applicant’s criminal history until they as an employer have conditionally offered employment.

Regardless, the idea of having a DUI conviction on your record can be anxiety-producing, to say the least. One option that may be available is a DUI expungement of the conviction.

So what is an expungement, what are the downsides and how does it work?

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is a process by which the record of your conviction can be taken off the public record. When you get an expungement, it’s like the conviction didn’t happen in some ways. You can say under oath without the risk of perjury that you don’t have the conviction.

Certain requirements need to be in place for someone to apply for expungement, however. Not every conviction meets eligibility requirements,and one condition in California dictates that you can’t have a conviction expunged if you served jail time. Every state is going to have its own set of laws, so it’s important to look at that specifically if you’re considering expungement.

If your DUI resulted in an accident that led to a serious injury or death and you served jail time, you wouldn’t be eligible for an expungement. Also, if you have a certain number of DUI convictions in 10 years, it’s a felony,and there is in most states a minimum jail sentence requirement imposed.

Who Is Eligible for a DUI Expungement?

Using the example of California, the following are the eligibility requirements and conditions that need to be in place to get a DUI conviction expunged.

  • You must have completed all sentencing conditions including probation
  • To be eligible for expungement in California youhave to wait a year from the date of the conviction if you weren’t placed on probation
  • You can’t have served state prison time
  • You can’t have committed any other criminal offense
  • A petition for dismissal is filed, and if it’s necessary there may be a motion for early probation termination
  • There’s something included with the petition stating that you’ve been a good citizen with no other criminal offenses and you should explain with the expungement will benefit your family and your career
  • If an expungement is granted, you receive an Order of Dismissal

What Is the Process?

First and foremost, it’s almost always best to work with a lawyer on expungement to make sure it’s done correctly. For people in California, the following are some of the steps in the process:

When a judge signs off on an order to expunge a DUI, then that order is sent to the Department of Justice. The criminal record is officially updated, although it can take several weeks to show an update.

What Are the Limitations of An Expungement?

An expungement will ensure that your DUI conviction doesn’t show up on background checks from employers and other entities. However, the conviction is still on court databases, and the Department of Motor Vehicles, state law enforcement agencies, and the FBI can see it.

Additionally, if you are charged with another DUI within ten years of the first time you’re convicted, you will receive the increased penalties--- the expungement won’t make it as if you never had the first DUI in this case.

While general employers and the public are not going to be able to see an expunged conviction, if you’re applying for certain positions, you will still have to let them know. For example, if you were applying for a job in law enforcement, you would have to disclose it. The same holds true if you’re applying for a professional license or public employment. When you disclose it, but you have an expungement that doesn’t necessarily take away your eligibility for certain public licenses or professional jobs.

For many people with DUI convictions, an expungement is worth the time and cost to work with a lawyer. It can significantly help them in their career and other areas of their life when they don’t have to worry about that hanging over them.