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What is DUI expungement?

How to get a DUI off your criminal record
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Having a DUI on your record can affect everything from employment to student loan eligibility.

However, many states will expunge DUI offenses from your criminal record under certain circumstances. If you're eligible for expungement, pursuing the process is in your best interests.

What is DUI expungement?

When a DUI is expunged, it is removed from your criminal record. That means that your expunged DUI will not be visible to employers, landlords, creditors, and others when they run a criminal background check.

However, the offense does not disappear completely; law enforcement can still use the charge as proof of a prior offense. For example, if you get another DUI after your first is expunged, you will likely still be charged with a second offense. Expunged convictions may also be used in deportation hearings.

Am I eligible to expunge my DUI?

Every state has different eligibility criteria for expungement, but they usually include the following:

  • Your sentence involved probation. For example, you received a deferred judgment or deferred adjudication with a one-year period of probation. If you served prison time, expungement is highly unlikely.
  • This was your first DUI.
  • You complied with the conditions of your probation. If you violated your probation, you are probably ineligible for DUI expungement. Non-payment of court fines, failure to timely complete mandatory community service, and driving on a suspended or revoked license could all make expungement impossible.
  • You have a clean criminal record before and after your DUI. Courts will typically consider your criminal history before the charge in granting an expungement, and they will not expunge a DUI charge if you have racked up other charges since.
  • The appropriate amount of time has passed since your conviction. Some states will expunge a DUI after a successful year of probation, while others require 3 to 10 years between conviction and expungement.
  • Your DUI offense didn't involve a high blood-alcohol content (0.15 is the cutoff in many states), a car accident, or any injuries.
  • Your DUI offense was not a felony.

How to get a DUI expunged

In most states, you will need to file a petition to expunge your DUI conviction, pay the filing fee, and give the prosecutor's office notice. When prosecutors receive your request to expunge a DUI, they must reply within a certain period if they want to contest it.

After that period is up, you'll request a court hearing for a judge to approve your motion to expunge. If the judge grants your petition, the charge will be wiped from your criminal record.

Bear in mind that not all states require such an intensive process. For example, if you received a deferred judgment, your DUI offense is usually automatically expunged once the state receives notice of the successful completion of probation.

What to do if you're ineligible for expungement

The eligibility requirements for DUI expungement are many, and you may not qualify. If you don't meet the criteria, however, you may have other options besides expungement.

For instance, your state may allow you to file a petition for an order of non-disclosure. That means that your DUI remains on your criminal record, but the state is forbidden from sharing information about your conviction with anyone but law enforcement. Employers, creditors, and other parties would be unable to see your conviction. Consider meeting with a DUI attorney to explore more options like this.

To determine whether you meet your state's DUI expungement criteria, talk to a DUI attorney in your area.

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