Getting your DUI “expunged” means getting it removed from most public records. Expunction can be a powerful form of relief after a conviction because it prevents your DUI from following you around and hampering your life in most ways. It can be used for any misdemeanor version of DUI, and some felonies, if the requirements are met.
If you need guidance in getting a DUI expunged in California, you should contact a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney. They can work to make sure you have all the information you need to effectively remove a conviction from your record.
Benefits of Expunging Your DUI
DUI convictions make it difficult to live your life as you have probably become used to. If you are in college, you can become ineligible for federal financial aid. You could find it difficult to find a new job, especially one where your duties include driving for work because most employers will choose not to hire someone with a known DUI past.
Expunging a DUI conviction makes it much less of an obstacle for you. When you get your DUI removed, the benefits include:
- Your DUI will not show up on most public background checks.
- Most employers cannot hold it against you for hiring, firing, or promotions.
- Landlords cannot use it to decide against renting to you.
- You may be eligible for professional licenses and public employment that you would otherwise not be eligible for.
Keep in mind that expunging a DUI does not entirely remove it from your record. There are limits to who can and can’t see the expunged conviction. However, even when people discover your DUI, it usually means they cannot legally hold it against you.
Limits of Expunging a DUI
An expunged DUI does not show up for most everyday situations, such as background checks for work or renting a home. However, it is still visible to entities such as the court system, insurance companies, professional licensing organizations, and government agencies.
In order to protect the public, especially from repeat DUI offenders, even misdemeanor convictions are not completely wiped from history in important situations. Here are some examples of instances where expunging a DUI does not help you.
California uses a “prior” system, meaning the penalties are tougher for repeat DUI offenders. Expunction does not help you avoid this. If you are arrested for DUI again in the future, your expunged DUI is visible to the court and will still count as a prior offense.
Similarly, law enforcement can see your expunged DUI on your criminal record any time they pull you over or run your name in their system.
Expunging a DUI will not decrease your insurance rates. You will have to pay the same higher rates based on your DUI conviction, whether it is expunged or not. In California, a DUI will remain on your driving record for 10 years, even when you have successfully expunged it.
Insurance carriers may even decide to decline coverage to you completely, especially if you have multiple DUI convictions.
Applying for Government Jobs
Some public jobs, such as working for law enforcement, require you to disclose your criminal record. You must still disclose your expunged DUI, and you could face perjury charges if you do not. It is also very likely that you will also be turned down for the job. However, an expunged DUI may not be held against you, and you could still get the job even after you disclose the offense.
This decision is up to the individual employer as it puts them at potential risk if they knowingly hire someone with a DUI conviction in their background.
You will need to disclose your DUI conviction history for certain professional licenses, such as a bar license for attorneys or a real estate license. Again, you must disclose it, but you may get approved anyway because the offense was expunged.
While it is still possible to join the US military with an expunged DUI, you must still disclose it when you enroll. If you do not, it will still appear on the more thorough background check that is conducted when you apply to serve. While you will not necessarily be denied entry, the US military often refuses people who have a past substance abuse problem.
A DUI does not always mean you have an addiction, but those with a DUI on their record may not be able to obtain a driver’s license. This could substantially affect their ability to serve. Likewise, a criminal record could keep you from advancing in rank or completing your duties if you are unable to obtain the necessary security clearances.
You should also know that felony convictions may not be able to be expunged. Generally, if you served time in state prison (for any reason, including a probation violation), you cannot expunge your offense. Since all California felony DUI offenses carry the possibility of state prison time, they often do not qualify for expunction.
How Do I Get My DUI Expunged?
Although California does not have a waiting period required before you can petition the court to expunge your DUI, there are some basic requirements. You must have completed all your punishments and paid all fines associated with the conviction before you can begin the process for expunction. The rules for the process are set down in California Penal Code 1203.4, and they include these steps:
- You have already served all penalties and requirements for your DUI, including jail, fines, DUI school, etc.
- You have completed the full 3-5 year probation term you were given. In some cases, you can request early termination of your probation.
- You are not currently facing any other criminal charges or serving any other criminal penalties, even for an unrelated crime.
- Your DUI offense did not include state prison time.
If you meet these requirements, you can request an expunction. The paperwork for this is complicated, and mistakes can set back your expunction by months or longer. It is best to have an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer help you understand the process.
Your lawyer will:
- Request a dismissal of your charge.
- Request early termination of your probation if needed.
- Attach a statement that you meet all requirements and a personal statement as to why the expunction will help your career or your family.
- Deliver copies of the paperwork to the prosecutor and the probation department to give them a chance to contest it.
If you meet the requirements, in most cases your expunction will be granted.
How Expensive Is It to Have a DUI Expunged?
As you might expect, there are fees associated with having a DUI expunged. There are filing fees to the court when you apply, and this amount varies across the different areas of California. There is a fee scale for each county that can usually be found on their government website.
While you can pursue an expungement by yourself, it can be helpful and faster if you hire a DUI lawyer to advise you. Law firms charge for this service, and fees range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand. Remember that expert legal counsel is a service where reliable guidance is well worth the cost to give yourself a fresh start after a DUI conviction.
Find Help with Getting a DUI Expunged in California
Have you been charged with DUI and need help getting it expunged in California? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Contact us today through our online form.