Make It Go Away: Expunging A DUI

If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), the consequences can have lingering ramifications. Getting a job, keeping a security clearance, and other big moves might have to be put on hold since many employers perform criminal background checks that will turn up a DUI on your record. In some cases, you might be able to make that issue less visible, so read on to find out more about expunging your DUI record.

Your Criminal Record

Once you are arrested, you will have a criminal record. Even if you end up having your charges dismissed, the arrest and other information is available to not just background researchers but to anyone with an interest. Criminal records, as long as the accused is not a minor, are a matter of public record and may be accessed from a home computer or smartphone in most locations. If you want to rent an apartment, find a new relationship, apply for a student loan, etc, the record of your DUI could come back to haunt you. It may seem unfair to those who have their charges dropped later on, because the evidence of the arrest never really goes away – unless, that is, you have the record expunged.

State Laws and Expungement

In some places, expungement is known as expunction, setting aside a conviction or sealing a conviction. Whatever it may be known as, it won't remove the information from your criminal records as much as it makes the information less visible to those who check you out. It remains in place for law enforcement to see and can it can be used against you if you are ever arrested in the future. For example, in some states, if you receive a second or more DUI conviction, your punishment and the potential for the charge to be considered a felony is compounded. Where you might have received probation for a misdemeanor, a felony will mean prison time for a second or more offense. Expungement does nothing to prevent this from happening, but it might keep it hidden from others.

Dropped Charges and Convictions

State law varies, but in some locations, you cannot have a charge with a conviction expunged. For example, if you were arrested and charged but had the charged later dropped, you can have that expunged. In some places, you might also be eligible for an expungement if you were convicted of the crime. When you are able to have a conviction expunged, it is nearly always associated with a first-time conviction. Regardless of the law, however, expungement is not guaranteed – you must request it and accept the ruling of the court. The court will take the totality of the circumstances into account before the ruling is handed down.

Since the laws about expungement vary a lot from state to state, you will need to speak to a criminal law attorney in the location where the DUI arrest occurred.