Expungement of a criminal record is a complicated process, and varies depending on the specifics of a conviction. Having a DUI expunged from your record will involve different steps depending on the state in which you live, and because the process is complex, it's best to consult an experienced DUI attorney to make sure you're eligible and follow the proper protocol.
Forms of expungement
There are a few different types of expungement, and depending on the specifics of your conviction, sentence and probation, you may have a few different options to pursue. If you were convicted of a felony DUI, for example, in addition to standard expungement, your records may be sealed, you may be able to have the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor or you could be released from your probation. If you pled guilty or no contest, in some cases, you can apply for a plea reversal. Discussing the specifics of your case with an experienced DUI attorney is generally a good way to get started, as expungement laws are complex.
Though expungement laws and regulations vary between states, in most cases, you can ensure eligibility by serving your sentence dutifully and completing your probation without incident. In some cases, there are exclusions. If you are incarcerated in a state prison, for example, you are likely ineligible for most forms of expungement. Probation violations may limit your expungement options, and in some states you will be required to request a special hearing if you want your records dismissed or sealed but have violated the terms of your probation.
Benefits and exclusions
While having your criminal record sealed or dismissed can help you gain employment and move on with your life, it's also important to be aware of what expungement will not do. In most states, certain limitations will still exist even if you've had your record expunged. You will likely be ineligible to own a firearm, for example.
Exclusions that relate specifically to a DUI conviction commonly regard licensure and subsequent charges. Even if you have your DUI expunged from your record, any restriction, suspension or revocation of your driver's license will remain intact. It's also important to realize that though your records may be dismissed in your public life, in the eyes of the court, the DUI remains a prior conviction. If you have a DUI expunged and are arrested again for DUI, for example, the second arrest will be considered your second offense.
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Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I am twenty years of age. I was arrested for a California DUI. I am wondering what will happen to me now and what steps I need to take. Do I need to talk to a DUI lawyer?”