If you have a DUI conviction on your record, then you are probably already aware of the impact it can have on your life, particularly when it comes to applying for loans or to jobs. You may want to consider an expungement of the DUI conviction which will seal records pertaining to this conviction from public databases and background checks.
However, not everyone is eligible for expungement. State law differs on this subject greatly and is complex. To help provide an understanding of whether you can have a DUI conviction expunged, here is what you need to know.
Expungement is a legal process in which a person can petition to have their criminal conviction sealed from public databases. This will essentially erase records of the DUI conviction from background checks and public records.
This can be especially beneficial when:
- Searching for job
- Applying for financing with a lender
- When looking for housing landlord.
When a conviction is expunged from your record, a background check by any potential employer, landlord, lender, educational institution, or simply the general public will no longer show your prior DUI conviction or any records of it.
There are some exceptions to note. If a conviction is expunged, the record will still be available in certain instances. Most law enforcement agencies will have access to view any prior conviction records and arrest records. Also, courts will be able to see prior convictions that were expunged for purposes of determining if there have been repeated offenses, also known as the “second strike” rule, that can lead to elevated charges and higher penalties.
Expungement laws vary greatly by state. Whether you can have a DUI conviction expunged will depend on the state expungement laws for which your DUI case was brought.
Since expungement eligibility is based upon state law, the first step is determining whether your DUI conviction was in a state that permits the expungement of any conviction. Not all states permit the expungement of prior criminal convictions. Some limit it to arrest records for non-convictions while others will not expunge records of prior criminal charges. Additionally, some states limit the types of crimes that may be expunged.
If the state permits expungement of DUI convictions, there are still procedural rules and other requirements to be aware of that may also impact your eligibility.
Time That Has Passed Since the DUI Conviction
Some states require that a person waits for a set number of years following the conviction before they are permitted to seek expungement. This differs in each state and can range from one to ten years since the conviction. However, this is not always the case and can be complicated by factors such as additional offenses since the DUI conviction and your age when you got the DUI conviction.
Also, some states have programs that may allow for expungement, such as the ARD program in Pennsylvania. In this case, the program terms would guide when you are eligible to petition for an expungement of a DUI conviction.
Usually, states require that persons have an otherwise clean criminal record prior to petitioning the court for the expungement of a DUI conviction.
Regardless of the time period that is set by the state law for when a person can petition for expungement, most states will require a clean criminal record for the time period since the conviction and the beginning of the expungement process. This would hold true for a DUI conviction if the state permits conviction for this type of crime.
Some states may permit minor offenses or other criminal charges, depending on the severity and facts of the conviction or arrest and the amount of time that has passed since those offenses.
If you have multiple DUI convictions, or other convictions, especially felony convictions, since the DUI conviction for which you are seeking expungement, then it is unlikely that you are eligible. However, there are a few exceptions. As such, it is good to consult with an attorney about the facts of your case and whether you are eligible for a DUI conviction to be expunged based on the applicable state law if this is something you want to pursue.
Can a Felony DUI Conviction be Expunged?
Generally speaking, felony convictions are more difficult to get expunged and are only permitted by some states. Since it will depend on the applicable state’s law, it is good to seek counsel if you are unclear as to which state’s law would apply for your conviction.
Some states will allow DUI felony convictions to be expunged depending on the facts of the case and whether there was an injury.
For states that permit expungement for DUI convictions that are felonies, it will be difficult to be eligible for expungement if there were aggravating factors such as injury to another person, property damage, or endangering the welfare of a child (which may be as simple as a young child was in the car at the time of the DUI arrest).
In Pennsylvania, you cannot get a DUI conviction expunged. The only option for getting DUI records is if the defendant enters the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. The ARD program is only permitted for misdemeanor charges that did not result in a criminal conviction.
Process for Expungement
If you are eligible for expungement, then you will need to submit a petition with either the court or the district attorney’s office. It will need to follow the process for the state that entered your DUI conviction. It is a complicated and involved process.
After submitting the petition, then you may have a hearing in some states. In others, the judge or district attorney reviews your application to determine whether to grant your request for expungement. Typically the application to expunge a DUI conviction is reviewed alongside other pertinent factors, such as:
- Your driving history since the DUI conviction
- Whether there have been any charges brought against you since the conviction
- The amount of time that has passed since the conviction
- Whether any drug treatment and rehabilitation programs were completed
- Whether your license was reinstated by the DMV if your DUI conviction resulted in a suspension of your license
- How much time has passed since having your driving privileges restored.
Are You Eligible for a DUI Conviction? Contact a DUI Attorney
If you have a DUI conviction and think you may be eligible to petition for it to be expunged or need help determining whether you are eligible, then you may want to seek the advice of a DUI attorney. A DUI attorney can also help you navigate through the process of expungement.
If you need help with the expungement process for a DUI conviction and would like to discuss your case with us at DiCindio Law, LLC, fill out our contact form and we will contact you as soon as possible.