California laws have zero tolerance for individuals who drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. A conviction for DUI attracts severe penalties in terms of jail time and fines. Also, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked. Fortunately, after a conviction for this offense, you can apply for expungement of your record. Criminal record expungement releases you from all negative consequences of a conviction. If you are sentenced to probation and complete your sentence, you can be eligible to expunge your records. However, you will be required to file a petition in court where your case will be investigated, and the judge will decide whether you qualify for the relief.

The process of getting your DUI record expunged can be complicated, and you will require legal guidance from the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer. We serve clients from Orange County, CA, to secure your best interests.

Overview of DUI Expungement

Having a drunk driving conviction on your record will undoubtedly have long life negative consequences. Even after completing your jail sentence and probation, a conviction record will affect both your personal and professional life. You may pay your fines, complete DUI programs, and quit drinking, but a DUI conviction lingering in your record may be a punishment by itself.

A DUI conviction will hamper your chances of securing employment, getting a student loan, or owning a gun. Also, you may find it difficult to obtain membership in some organizations or hold a public office. This is because most potential employers will do a background check on you and will undoubtedly find the records. Unlike in the past where criminal records were only accessed by the parties to the conviction and the authorities, today, members of the public can access your criminal record.

Fortunately, you can lessen the adverse effects of a conviction by filing a motion to expunge your DUI record. An expungement of your criminal record means that a guilty plea is withdrawn. Under California Penal Code 1203.4 expungement will release you from all the penalties and consequences that arise out of a DUI conviction. If you are trying to obtain DUI expungement in California, having a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney by your side will be of great help.

Eligibility Criteria for DUI Expungement

Before filing a motion of DUI expungement, you need to make sure that you meet the criteria. Not all DUI convictions will be granted an expungement in California. The following is the eligibility criteria for a DUI expungement:

You Successfully Completed Probation for the Offense

If you are convicted for a misdemeanor DUI in California, it is most likely that you will be put on three years’ probation. Once you complete the probation period, you can file for expungement and dismissal of your DUI conviction. However, it is not automatic that you will receive the expungement. The decision will be made in court during the hearing. Successful completion of probation means that you paid all fines and restitution, and you completed your counseling programs. Also, successful probation is where you make all required appearances to court and avoiding crime during the probation period.

You did not Serve a Prison Sentence

If you did not serve prison time for your offense, you are eligible for expungement. Sometimes you are convicted and given a prison sentence that would have been otherwise served in jail. In this case, you can be an exception and have a chance at expunging your record. You will serve a deserving state prison sentence if you are convicted of driving under the influence of drugs as a felony. A DUI is considered a felony if you receive a fourth conviction within ten years, or you caused severe bodily injury while drunk driving.

You are not Currently Facing Other Charges

If you are seeking to expunge your DUI records, you should be clear of any other criminal charges at the moment. Also, you should not be serving probation or a prison sentence for another offense.

An Early Termination of your Probation

The end of your probation makes you eligible for expungement of your criminal records. Your probation may end when the time set by the court elapses, or it is terminated early. The probation period after a conviction for DUI in California is often three years. That is a long time you need to wait for your DUI expungement. With the help of a competent criminal defense attorney, you can get an early termination.

For you to receive early termination of probation, you need to file a petition with the court. You will have a better chance for early termination if:

  • You have completed the terms of your DUI probation by paying fines and attending relevant classes
  • The presence of circumstances such as the need to secure a lucrative job will justify early termination of your probation

However, it is not easy to receive early probation termination for a DUI offense. This is because one of the terms of probation is that you should not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood. The court may deny your request for early termination as a way to ensure that you avoid drunk driving.

Process of Expunging a DUI Record

As soon as you complete your probation, you can file a petition for the court to expunge your DUI record. The judge will then review your petition and determine whether or not you are eligible to receive an expungement. However, before the court grants you relief under California Penal Code 1203.4, some steps need to be followed. The legal process of filing for an expungement can be quite complicated, and therefore you will require competent legal guidance. The following are the steps that an attorney will follow:

  • Analyze your DUI case and conviction to determine whether you are eligible for the relief
  • Research the legal matters surrounding a DUI expungement
  • Fill out the relevant paperwork which should be done in the right time frame. Some of the records you will be required to have when filing for expungement is your DUI case number or the minute order from the court where you were tried
  • Attend the hearing or your expungement. Given that you need to give a fifteen days’ notice to the prosecutor, timely filing of paperwork is of great importance.

If your petition to expunge the record is granted, you can withdraw your guilty plea to not guilty. Also, if you were tried and found guilty, the verdict will be set aside after the expungement.

Benefits of a California DUI Expungement

If you wish to erase your DUI records, you will be required to file a petition in court. Depending on the nature of your conviction, the court will determine whether or not to grant the expungement. An expungement of your DUI in California has the following benefits:

Assistance in Job Applications

Usually, a past DUI conviction will appear on the background check done by potential employers. Having a DUI conviction on your record can affect your ability to secure a job. This is because most employers do not want to hire ex-convicts. One of the most valuable benefits of a DUI expungement is that it can help you secure employment despite having been convicted in the past. 

Most employers will do a background check to find out your arrest records, convictions, and status of probation. If your DUI record is expunged, you can answer no when asked for prior convictions. Also, a successful expungement of your file can increase your earning potential. This is because the conviction records will not be used as a basis to deny you a job opportunity.

Even though an employer can see the expunged record on your background, they will not be allowed to use it against you when offering the job. If you are hoping to get a job but have a DUI conviction record, you can apply for an expungement to increase your chances of getting the job. However, you need to understand that you will be required to disclose your expunged DUI conviction when:

  • You are running for a position in public office
  • You are seeking to become a peace officer 
  • You are applying for a state license
  • You want to contract with a lottery commission in Caledonia 

Improves your credibility as a Witness in Court

If you are a witness in a civil case in California, the prosecutor may use the conviction to question the reliability of your testimony. However, if the court grants you a DUI expungement, your conviction will not be used to discredit you as a witness. The expungement will be of great benefit if you are suing someone for compensation damages, and your testimony is key to the suit.

Obtaining State Licenses

When you are seeking to obtain a state license, your criminal record will be put into consideration. A DUI conviction will not look good on your record and may be a reason why your license application is denied. However, if you are successful in expunging your DUI record, you will be in a better position to receive a state license. Also, completion of your probation will be an added advantage.

It is essential to understand that the expunged record will still need to be disclosed if you are asked about it in your application. Some licenses that may be positively affected for deleting your criminal files are the medical and professional licenses.

Helping you be Part of a Professional Organization

Similar to employers, most professional organizations will perform a background check on you if you wish to be a member. Expungement of your DUI records will lessen the impact of your conviction and can help you get the membership. The process of expunging a DUI record can be complicated, and it is essential to seek legal representation.

Easier Entry to Other Countries

If you want to move to another country, a DUI may be viewed as a felony conviction and will be used to deny you entry. Also, an expungement will be considered to be a better record as compared to an original conviction. However, expunging your record makes entry to foreign countries easier.

Even after getting an expungement, it is crucial to understand that it cannot preclude the immigration consequences of the conviction. Most DUI convictions in California will not trigger negative immigration consequences. However, there are circumstances under which driving under the influence of drugs may be detrimental to your immigration status.

Some ways in which a DUI conviction will trigger immigration consequences include:

  • You are convicted of another crime or had a DUI criminal record
  • The total sentence for your crimes added to more than five years 

Your conviction was for driving while intoxicated with other drugs

If you are convicted under any of the above circumstances, an expungement will not help overturn deportation.

Cleaning your Personal Record

An arrest and conviction for DUI have serious legal consequences. However, getting convicted for this offense will affect your personal and social life. Many people may find it difficult to relate to someone who has served jail time. Although a DUI expungement will not erase what happened in the past, you can get redemption for the mistakes you made in the past. Also, the expungement will give you closure and immense personal benefit, which cannot be measured. Navigating this process with help from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will increase your chances of success.

Limitations of a DUI Expungement

A DUI expungement offers relief of consequences that accompany a conviction record for this offense. However, certain things expunging your criminal records will not do including:

  1. An expungement cannot overturn suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. Driver’s license suspension is one of the severe penalties you receive after a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Even before the hearing of your criminal case, the Department of Motor Vehicle will seek to suspend your license. A loss in the DMV hearing and the criminal case will result in license suspension. Although DUI expungement will relieve you of the conviction burden, it cannot change a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. However, in most cases, the period of suspension will be shorter than probation, and you cannot seek DUI expungement before completing probation.
  2. Your gun rights will not be restored. If you are arrested and convicted for a felony DUI your right to purchase own or use a gun will be barred. The severity of your offense will determine the amount of time you will be denied gun rights. Even after expunging your record, your gun rights cannot be restored until the time set by the court elapses.
  3. An expunged DUI record will still need to be disclosed. Even though an expunged record does not carry as much weight as the original conviction, you may yet be required to publish it. However, employers cannot use it as a basis of denying you a job for which you are qualified.
  4. Expunging your DUI records doesn’t prevent you from getting considered a repeat offender. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a ‘priorable’ offense. If you are charged with a subsequent DUI within ten years of the prior offense, your penalties may be increased. Even after expunging the record, you will still be charged as a repeat offender.

DUI Expungement Frequently Asked Questions

There are many ways in which expunging your DUI records will be beneficial to you. However, not all convictions will be eligible for an expungement. You will require guidance from a competent criminal defense attorney. Some of the most frequently asked questions about expunging your DUI records:

  1. If I Violated Probation, is there a Chance of Getting an Expungement?

Yes. Generally, you need to complete your probation before applying for a DUI expungement successfully. However, even when you violated the terms of your probation, all hope is not lost, and you can request a separate hearing. If you are applying for an expungement, the court will determine whether you are the right candidate for relief. Some of the factors that will be put into consideration when making this decision include:

  • The seriousness of your conviction. A conviction for an ordinary first DUI offense is not considered serious, and you have a better chance of receiving the expungement. However, repeat offenders who violate probation may have a slim chance.
  • Your overall probation performance. Even when you violated one of the aspects of your probation, the general performance will be used to determine whether or not you are the right candidate for expungement.
  • Your criminal history. California law is stringent on repeat offenders, especially individuals who drive under the influence of drugs. If you have a prior DUI conviction and still violate probation, the court is likely to deny your expungement motion.
  • Additional evidence that could prove why you are deserving of this kind of relief. Such evidence includes the possibility of obtaining a job, family, and community support.
  1. How long does it take to get my DUI record expunged?

After you file a petition for DUI expungement under California Penal Code 1203.4, your case will be scheduled within one or two months. However, the period taken to come to a decision will depend on the nature of your conviction. This is because you need to file the relevant paperwork and present evidence showing why you deserve a DUI expungement

  1. How long will a DUI conviction stay on my record after an expungement?

Criminal records have no definite time during which they stay on your record even after an expungement. Under California Penal Code 1203.4, an expunged record will always be a part of your criminal record. The only way through which a criminal history is erased is if the records are sealed and destroyed. Sealing of arrest records is a process which is different from expungement.

  1. Does a DUI expungement affect my car insurance rates?

No. If you are arrested and convicted for a DUI, your car insurance providers may increase your premiums. It is essential to understand that an expungement of your DUI will not affect your car insurance rates. This is because a criminal record expungement will not remove your driving history from the insurance database. Therefore, whatever rates your insurance company dictates after a DUI conviction will remain eve after expunging the record.

  1. What is the difference between expungement and sealing arrest records?

Sealing of arrest records will destroy the criminal record, and it will not be found in background checks. The sealing of documents is an entirely different process with different eligibility criteria. An arrest record will be sealed and destroyed if:

  • You were arrested, but the prosecutor did not file any criminal charges against you
  • A prosecutor filed a case against you, but the case was dismissed in court
  • You were acquitted of your charges at the jury trial
  • You got arrested charged and convicted, but after appealing the case, the conviction was overturned
  • You complete a program of diversion. Generally, the judge has to declare you factually innocent for you to seal your records. In this case, you can state that you have never been arrested for a crime after sealing your arrest records          

Get a DUI Expungement Done With Help of a DUI Defense Lawyer

Applying for a record expungement is one of the ways through which you can avoid the negative consequences that accompany a DUI conviction. However, there are criteria you need to meet so you can be granted an expungement of your DUI. After a DUI expungement, you can seek employment without getting discriminated for your records. However, it is crucial to understand that an expunged DUI record still counts as a prior offense if you get another conviction in ten years. If you wish to seek a DUI expungement, it would be wise to enlist the help of an attorney from Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer. Contact us today at 714-820-9592 from any location in Orange County, CA, and allow us to guide you through the case.