Can a DUI Be Expunged? What You Need to Know to Clear Your Record

posted by Chris Valentine

A DUI can have long-lasting consequences. Now, if you’re asking, “Can a DUI be expunged?” the answer’s yes, but it can be a long process. Read on to know more.

Is there actually life after a DUI?

Those who have received a DUI often have many questions. The main question is pretty simple: “Can a DUI be expunged?”

The answer is more complicated than you think. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to clear your record!

Expungement Explained

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide for expunging your DUI conviction. Before we go any further, though, it’s important to help explain how expungement works.

An expungement of someone’s legal record can only be ordered by the court. For all intents and purposes, an expungement can make your DUI conviction go away for good.

This may sound too good to be true. Unfortunately, there are a few catches to this process. You may not qualify, and even if you do qualify, the process can be long and very annoying.

Before you go down the road of expungement, remember: knowledge really is power. The more you research this issue ahead of time, the easier you can make the whole process.

Are The Records Really Gone?

Some people are prudent and some are just paranoid. Both groups, though, like to ask the same question: is your conviction really gone after expungement?

The answer is “yes and no.” And by understanding how this is going to work, you can determine whether going through this process will be worth it.

If law enforcement or the court needs to review your records in the future, they will still be able to see the DUI record. However, if you avoid future legal trouble, this should be a non-issue.

However, other people (ranging from employers and landlords all the way to nosy neighbors) will never be able to find out about your DUI after it is successfully expunged.

Is Expungement An Option?

So, let’s say you’ve gotten a DUI and are interested in expungement. What is the first step? That’s simple: you need to figure out whether expungement will even be an option for you.

Some states have expungement options and some states do not. And even for states that offer the option, expungement may be contingent on certain conditions.

For example, expungement in certain states may only be available for juvenile offenses. And a great many states have other expungement requirements that you would need to abide by to have your records sealed.

Expungement Requirements

As we noted, different states typically have different requirements. However, there are a few expungement requirements that are relatively common across the different qualifying states.

For example, most states that offer expungement will only allow it for first-time offenders. They have no interest in helping a repeat offender to clear his name.

And most states will require that you successfully complete certain requirements before you can petition for expungement. These requirements include probation and/or completing a driving course.

Only you can decide if pursuing an expungement is worth it. But it’s important to know just what you’re getting yourself into with this process.

The Felony Issue

There is another common issue across most expungement states. In order to improve your expungement odds, your DUI must not have involved a felony.

Whether you committed a felony or not is, of course, a matter for the court to decide. But generally speaking, this means that your DUI involved serious injury, serious property damage, or even death.

You may still be able to pursue expungement if the DUI involved a felony. However, it is less likely to be granted.

The Waiting Game

If you live in an expungement state and qualify for expungement, does this mean you can pursue it right away? In most cases, the answer to that is “no.”

Most states require some kind of waiting period between getting the DUI and applying for an expungement. For example, you may need to wait a year before you can begin the process. If your case was really severe (such as those involving a felony), you may need to wait even longer.

Try to use this time wisely. In addition to researching expungement, this is the prime time to learn about getting license back after DUI.

The Petition Process

So, you qualify for an expungement and you’re ready to get started. What, then, does this process really look like?

To start out, you must fill out and file your petition. This involves paying a fee and letting the prosecuting attorney know that you are seeking an expungement.

That attorney is likely to challenge your petition. And regardless of the challenge, a judge will review the petition before you get an official answer. Once the judge signs off, your fate is in the hands of the court.

Speaking of court, you will need to request a final hearing. It is here that you (or your attorney on your behalf) will argue why you deserve to have your DUI expunged.

Long, But Worth It

As you can tell, this entire process can be pretty lengthy. You are likely to spend over a year from the moment you are convicted until you can have the record expunged.

So, is it worth it to go through all of this trouble? Absolutely. That’s because a DUI conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life.

Such a conviction can keep you from getting the job you want, the home of your dreams…in short, it can really hold your life back. But a successful expungement helps give you the second chance that you need.

Legal Help

Will you need legal help before this is all through? In all likelihood, the answer is “yes.”

An experienced attorney can help you navigate state requirements, fill out your petition, and submit it to the right people. And when the time comes, they can help argue your case before the court.

An attorney may add to the cost of the whole process. But the attorney increases your odds of getting your life back, and it’s tough to put a price tag on that.

Can A DUI Be Expunged? The Bottom Line

Now you know the answer to “can a DUI be expunged.” But do you have an answer for how to get your life back on track?

The healing journey may be long and filled with obstacles. To see how we can help you heal, check out our Wellness archive today!

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