DUI and Expungement: Clearing Your DUI Record
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A DUI conviction can reduce your employment options, affect your driver’s license and insurance rates for many years after the incident, and increase penalties for subsequent offenses. Some states offer the opportunity to expunge your criminal record, and if you are eligible for expungement of your DUI criminal record, it is well worth the effort to do so.
DUI Expungement Eligibility Requirements
Some states do not allow courts to expunge DUI convictions. Texas and Mississippi, for example, allow expungements for several offenses, but not those related to DUI convictions, because of the nature of the offense. Some states will bar a DUI conviction from expungement based on the type of sentence that you received, rather than the nature of your offense as related to DUI. For example, you may be eligible if you only received and completed a deferred sentence, and therefore, were never technically found guilty of a DUI. In these states, if you were found guilty and convicted, but your DUI sentence was merely suspended, then you would not be eligible for expungement of your DUI record because of the final nature of your DUI conviction.
The laws of the state where you received your conviction control if DUI expungements are permitted. That state’s laws will also set out the requirements and procedures. Even though DUI expungement procedures vary by state, there are three general eligibility requirements:
- Your DUI sentence must have involved some type of probation (i.e. deferred or strait community supervision). If you were sent to a state prison as punishment for your DUI conviction, your chances of getting a DUI expungement are very slim.
- You complied with all of the requirements of your DUI probation. If you were revoked or discharged unsuccessfully, you probably won’t qualify to have your DUI criminal record expunged.
- There cannot be a pending criminal issue at the time you are expunging the DUI criminal record. If you are trying to get your DUI conviction expunged because you are afraid it will be used against you in your new pending criminal case, your request to expunge your DUI record will be denied.
Filing a Petition for Expungement of DUI Criminal Record
Once you determine that you meet the state requirements to expunge a DUI criminal record, you must also follow the procedures for expungement. Usually, you must file a petition to expunge your DUI conviction, pay a filing fee, and then send notice to the prosecuting attorney’s office. Once they receive notice of your DUI expungement request, they have a specified amount of time to file an answer and contest your request.
After their time to answer has passed, you must request a final hearing with the court. If you don’t get your motion before the judge, he or she cannot rule, and thereby cannot grant your petition to expunge your DUI record. At the hearing, it is your responsibility to show why you are entitled to have your DUI conviction expunged. Because you will be held to the same rules of procedure as an attorney, it is always well advised to have an attorney assist you with this stage.
What if I Don’t Qualify for a DUI Expungement?
If you do not qualify for an expungement of your DUI criminal record, you may still want to visit with an attorney that handles expungements and DUI’s on a regular basis. Other options may be available in your state that will have a similar effect, like a petition for non-disclosure. You may still have the DUI conviction, but the state would be prevented from sharing information about your DUI conviction with anyone except law enforcement. Meaning, employers would not have your DUI conviction information to hold against you in their hiring decisions.
If you were arrested for DUI, but a case was never filed and the statute of limitations has run out, you may have even more options available. The main thing to remember is that every state is slightly different, but multiple avenues are generally available for clearing up a DUI criminal record. Take the time to consult with DUI and expungement attorneys to see which options are best for clearing your DUI criminal record.
Meeting with a DUI Attorney
Before you contact an attorney to apply for a DUI expungement, gather all of your court records. Where you were convicted and the sentence you received will determine whether you are eligible for an expungement or some other type of similar relief. When you visit with an attorney, your first question should be whether or not your state allows DUI convictions to be expunged. If there is a process to expunge a DUI criminal record, work with your attorney to do so.