Whether you can have a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest or conviction expunged from your record depends on your state laws. Criminal record expungement laws vary from state to state. Some states don't allow it for convictions -- only for arrests that did not result in a conviction. Other states allow expungements, but only under certain conditions.
This article will discuss the basics of expungement, including what it is. The article also addresses the expungement of juvenile records. It includes examples of expungements. Finally, the article discusses whether an expungement will impact a driver's license suspension.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement effectively hides a DUI or driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrest or conviction from the public. Expungement is also called:
- Sealing a conviction
- Setting aside a criminal conviction
An expunged DUI offense may still be used as proof of a prior conviction. However, expunged offenses aren't usually visible to prospective employers, educational institutions, credit issuers, or other entities conducting background checks.
In some legal proceedings, an expunged conviction "under seal" may still be considered proof of a prior conviction. Examples of this include:
Can I Expunge Any DUI Conviction?
The ability to expunge a drunk driving arrest or conviction varies by state and is often limited to misdemeanors. This is the case in Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Some states allow the expunction of both misdemeanor and felony DUI offenses. That's the case in:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
In some of these states, special requirements must be satisfied. Often, there is a set waiting period.
Still, other states don't allow expungement of DUI convictions at all. For example, that's the case in Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Michigan. In all cases, it's up to the court to decide whether to grant the expungement.
Depending on the state or county, special eligibility rules might exist to expunge DUI arrests or convictions that occurred while an offender was a juvenile. Alabama, for instance, allows for the expungement of juvenile offenses. An offender can petition to have their records destroyed five years after they reach the age of majority.
Suppose you're convicted of a misdemeanor DUI violation in California. In that case, you may file a petition for expungement after successfully completing probation (if applicable). Even felony DUI convictions can sometimes be expunged in California. This often involves extra court procedures, such as reducing the conviction status to a misdemeanor.
In contrast, Florida law only allows for the expungement of DUI arrests when the charges were dropped, dismissed by the court, never filed, or when the accused wasn't found guilty. Unlike many other states, Florida's Department of Law Enforcement may disclose the existence (but not the contents) of expunged records pertaining to those applying for jobs or certifications of membership.
Will Expungement Impact My Driver's License Suspension With the DMV?
Expungement doesn't apply to your driving privileges and won't affect a license restriction or other matters handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent state motor vehicle agency.
Questions About DUI Expungement? Talk to a Defense Lawyer
A criminal defense attorney specializing in drunk driving or DUI cases can give you legal advice and help determine if you can expunge a DUI charge in your state. If you have questions about the expungement process, contacting a skilled DUI attorney near you is a good idea. A DUI lawyer can help educate you about DUI laws and DUI defenses.