If you want to clear your DUI criminal record, you have two options:
- You can have your DUI records sealed OR
- You can have your DUI records expunged
1. Sealing Your DUI Arrest Records
When your DUI records are sealed, it means that all the information regarding your arrest or conviction cannot be accessed by the public. All the physical and electronic documentations of your DUI case are flagged to prevent them from being shared with the outside public.
After your criminal record is sealed, it is confidential and unavailable for future employers, background checks, and public records. It’s like the whole thing never happened.
This also means that during a job interview you’re not legally obligated to talk about your criminal history. You can deny your dui arrest, acquittal, conviction or that the fact that your criminal record was sealed.
2. Expunging Your DUI Arrest Records
An expungment is a process to physically destroy all the documentations about your DUI arrest.
This is different from sealing your record where your records are still kept within the criminal justice system.
Sealing your criminal record simply makes them inaccessible. Expugement erases your entire record.
However, even with an expungement, one copy of your DUI criminal record is always maintained within the law enforcement agency.
Sealing vs Expunging Your Record
Many people ask “Why can’t I just expunge my record instead of sealing it?.” The reason is that the requirements for expungement may be slightly different than sealing your record.
You can only expunge your DUI criminal record if:
- You were arrested but never charged
- Your case was dropped or dismissed
- You were found not guilty
If you entered a plea of guilty, you are only allowed to seal your criminal record. Then after several years, if your record remains clean, you may be able to get your record expunged.
Requirements for Clearing Your DUI Criminal Record
In order to seal or expunge your records, you typically must meet the following requirements:
- You have never received a seal or expungement before
- You successfully completed any probation
- You have paid all of your DUI fines, restitution, reimbursement
- You’re not charged with another offense
- Your conviction was a misdemeanor
- It has been one year since the date of your conviction
- You have completed your sentence from the court
What Should Be Cleared?
In order for you to clean you record you will have to check both your driving record and criminal record. The court and DMV keep separate records and you will want to check that both of them have been cleared.
How Do I Start the Process?
To begin you will need to hire a DUI lawyer or hire a specialized service such as Expungement Assistance Service that deals specifically with clearing drunk driving records.
Here is how the process typically works:
- Your lawyer files an application with the Superior Court in the county you were arrested for drunk driving. If they approve the application, they will issue a certificate of eligibility.
- Once your lawyer receives the certificate of eligibility, he or she will file and submit a petition to either seal or expunge your record.
- Once the court receives the petition, they will make a decision to either grant or deny your petition.
- If your petition is granted, the court will send an order to seal or expunge your DUI criminal record to all the different criminal agencies.
The whole process takes approximately 6 months.
How Much Will this Cost Me?
It always depends on the specifics of your offense and your state dui laws.
However, If you hire a lawyer , you should expect to pay between $1,000- $5,000
Not a Complete Start Over
Even if you are able to successfully seal or expunge your DUI criminal record, one copy will always remain within the criminal justice system.
Having your criminal record expunged or sealed will not protect you if you are arrested for another DUI. For example, if DUI number 1 was expunged and you were arrested for DUI number 2, you will be prosecuted with a second offense DUI. This means you will get harsher fines and longer jail time for being a repeat offender.
The existence of your criminal record ( though not the content) may also be revealed if you were applying for a job, membership or license with a government, criminal, or education agency. This includes places like :
- Department of Education
- Private or Public School
- Applying to the Bar
- A criminal justice agency
Although your DUI criminal will not be completely wiped clean, it is the best thing you can do. By either sealing or expunging your arrest, you will be able to move on and return back to your normal life.