Nothing good ever comes with a DUI conviction.
If you want to boost your chances of acquittal or dismissal, you will need to have a skilled and experienced extreme DUI attorney defending you in court.
Still, a conviction will always remain a possibility, and the pitfalls of being convicted for driving under the influence don’t stop with the sentence a judge hands down.
While jail time, probation, hefty fines, license suspension, and the other penalties that typically come with a DUI conviction can impact your life adversely, it’s the fact that you’ll have a criminal record that will haunt you in the long term.
A criminal record affects your future in more ways than one. You can clean up your act, quit drinking, and stay sober after your DUI conviction, but the mere existence of a criminal record will continue to follow you around for a long time.
Finding employment will be difficult, as employers wouldn’t want to hire people who have been proven in court to be irresponsible and reckless. If you were hoping to get into a good university, your DUI conviction could derail your plans. Maintaining or renewing your driver’s license could also prove to be hard. Your auto insurance premiums will also increase once insurers get wind of your DUI conviction.
If you want to shake this proverbial monkey off your back, you might want to apply for an expungement of your DUI conviction.
Expungement, In A Nutshell
Also known as expunction, expungement is the court-ordered process of “sealing” the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction, or erasing it in the eyes of the law. In short, it is a way of cleaning up your record.
Once the DUI conviction on your record is expunged, employers, university admissions officials, lenders, landlords, and just about anyone who conducts a criminal background check will no longer see it in official public records.
However, expungement does not really mean complete erasure of your record. Law enforcement and court officials can still access the information since they need it to see you have had prior convictions.
Still, an expungement will be a welcome relief for you, as your DUI conviction will no longer get in the way of living a normal life.
Not All States Do Not Allow DUI Conviction Expungement
Before anything else, you need to find out if the state where you were convicted of a DUI allows expungements of DUI convictions. After all, some states do not have DUI expungement available.
Among the states that do not allow expungement of a DUI conviction are:
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
The District of Columbia also does not offer DUI conviction expungements.
Determining Your Eligibility
If the state in which you were convicted of a DUI allows expungements, then the next thing you need to do is determine if you are eligible for one.
States may differ in their expungement eligibility requirements. Among the factors that states consider when you’re applying for expungement include the question of whether it’s your first DUI conviction or not, the amount of time since your conviction, and the severity of your DUI charge.
In all likelihood, a judge will consider you ineligible for DUI expungement if:
- You have multiple DUI convictions.
- You violated the terms of your probation.
- You have a pending criminal case.
- Your DUI conviction was classified as a felony.
The DUI Expungement Process
Once you determine that expungement is allowed in the state where you were convicted, and you are eligible for one, you can proceed to file a petition with the court or fill out an application.
The process may also differ from state to state. Some do it via a public hearing, where you will have the chance to state your reasons and justify your petition for expungement. Other jurisdictions leave the whole thing in the hands of a judge, who will review your petition and other paperwork related to your case before deciding on whether to grant you an expungement or not.
You need to be aware that the DUI expungement process may take time, involves plenty of paperwork, and could be complicated.
Expungement, however, will be all worth that hassle, especially if your DUI conviction was your first one, and you have cleaned up your act enough to ensure that there won’t be a second.