Your criminal background plays a significant role in your everyday life. Everyone from potential employers to creditors can look at this record and decide whether or not to approve your application for a job, loan, housing, or other transactions.
When you have long served your time and paid back your debt to society, you may want to have the conviction removed from your criminal history. You might convince the court to approve your request for DUI expungement by hiring a DUI attorney to assist you in the legal expungement process.
What is Expungement?
What does it mean to expunge record entries of any DUI convictions you might have received in the past? Simply put, a DUI expungement conceals the offense from anyone conducting a background check on you. When they review your criminal record, they will not be able to view the details of your conviction and use that information against you.
You also may wonder if the expungement of the DUI can adversely affect your driving privileges. The DMV cannot use the fact that you had it concealed on your record against you. You still must be allotted the typical privileges as any other driver in your state as long as you comply with current driving laws.
However, what does expunged mean in terms of how it can be used against you in future legal cases? While expungement lawyers can conceal this record from potential employers, creditors, landlords, and other people, they cannot hide it from law enforcement officers, judges, and other attorneys.
If you are arrested for any other offense, you could be convicted and sentenced in part based on the fact that you have a prior DUI conviction on your record. These individuals will be able to see the offense when they conduct a background check on you.
Even so, you may benefit by having the conviction expunged so that you can carry on your normal life without this offense hanging over your every move. It is important that if you succeed at having the DUI offense expunged that you take every care to avoid committing crimes and being arrested in the future.
Eligibility for Expungement
Your ability to have the record expunged depends on a number of different factors. The primary factor that comes into play is what state you live in and in which state you were convicted of drinking and driving.
Some states allow DUI offenses to be concealed while others restrict or outlaw expungement entirely. When you retain a DUI lawyer, you should ask if expungement is possible in the state in which you live or were arrested.
The states that currently allow DUI convictions to be expunged from people’s records are:
- South Dakota
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
Second, your ability to have your record expunged depends on the seriousness of your DUI arrest. Was it your first offense, or are you a repeat DUI offender? Did you harm or kill anyone while driving under the influence? How much property damage did you cause?
These questions all are taken into consideration before a judge decides to expunge the conviction. If you are a first-time offender, you may be granted your request more readily than if this were your second or third conviction. Likewise, the judge may deny your request if you caused damages to anyone or anything while driving intoxicated.
Third, your ability to have the record expunged could depend on whether you were arrested and exonerated or arrested and found guilty. Some states allow for DUI arrests to be concealed if you were not found guilty on the charges.
If you were arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to any kind of punishment for the crime, you may have to deal with the conviction staying on your record for its rightful duration. Again, this stipulation varies from state to state. Your lawyer will know if it applies to your particular case.
Finally, you may have the offense expunged if you are or were a juvenile when the DUI occurred. Most states treat juvenile DUI convictions differently than adult DUI cases. They typically allow the conviction to fall off your record by the time you reach 21 years of age.
Again, this scenario depends on the state you live in and the extent of the damages that you caused while driving inebriated. Your lawyer can give you all of the facts when you set up an initial consultation with him or her to discuss expunging your record.
Why Hire an Expungement Lawyer?
Why should you hire a lawyer to help you with having your record expunged? Could you not do the work yourself and have the conviction removed without legal help?
The answer to both questions is yes, you are entitled to take care of your own expungement request. A judge cannot tell you that you have to hire a lawyer to assist in the process.
However, given how complex the expungement laws can be in any state, chances are that you will not understand the process in the first place or how to navigate it successfully to get your expungement petition approved. You need a lawyer who is well-versed in DUI and expungement laws to assist you if you are serious about having this entry concealed on your record.
Moreover, the process for expungement can be time consuming, frustrating, and full of details that you may forget or fail to appreciate. When you have a lawyer working with you on your request, you can essentially take a backseat and allow your attorney to handle all of the specifics. You can provide the information he or she needs to research your arrest, court case, and conviction and then sit back while he or she navigates the legalities for expunging the record.
Letting an attorney handle the specifics can be critical if you do not want the judge to throw out your petition before it is reviewed. If you forget even one requirement, such as providing proof that you completed your sentence, the judge could toss it on a technicality. All of your hard work would be for nothing because you failed to comply fully with the process.
Your attorney, however, will know what details to include and ensure that the request is filed in full compliance with the court’s rules. You may then anticipate having your request approved and your record expunged successfully.
Where to Find an Expungement Lawyer
So where do you begin to find an attorney in your area who has the experience with and knowledge of your state’s expungement laws? Start your quest to find the ideal lawyer for your case by going online.
The attorneys suited to take your case do not list themselves as expungement attorneys but rather DUI or criminal defense lawyers. Read the reviews for each DUI attorney in your city to determine what ones to contact and vet for your expungement request.
If you know anyone in your family or circle of friends who has been through the process, you should ask those individuals for input about what attorney to hire. Driving under the influence is one of the most common offenses committed in the U.S. Many people, some of whom you might even know, are familiar with having DUI convictions expunged from their records.
Employers, landlords, creditors, and others can readily view a DUI conviction that is in your criminal history. Have it concealed and regain your normal life by asking the court for a DUI expungement. Keep these facts in mind when searching for a lawyer to help you with this legal process.