How to Expunge a DUI in California
DUI is one of those offenses that nearly anyone can commit, even if they consider themselves normally law-abiding. An unexpected trip to the bar after work can leave you more impaired than you realize, and if the police pull you over, you may face a DUI arrest that impacts the rest of your life.
How Does a DUI Affect Your Future?
In California, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If you’re operating a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is 0.04%. In addition, if you are under 21, a BAC over 0.01% can get you in serious trouble. If convicted, even a first-time offender can face the following:
- Hefty fines..
- Up to six months in jail.
- A six-month license suspension. If you refused BAC testing, you face a one-year administrative suspension.
- Probation lasts anywhere from three to five years. As a condition of probation, you will have to complete a three-month DUI school. If your BAC when arrested was .20% or more, the program would be extended to nine months.
Repeat offenders face more jail time, a longer license suspension, and longer-term attendance at DUI school.
In addition to the above penalties, you are left with a criminal record that can damage your future rights and opportunities. Whenever a prospective employer, landlord, or licensing entity checks your background, your DUI conviction may appear. If you become involved in a contentious divorce, it can affect your chances of getting custody of your children.
Many people assume that a DUI conviction is a lot like a black mark on your credit report: as time passes, it becomes less significant and eventually disappears. It’s not true. Any conviction remains on your record indefinitely. That mistake you made while celebrating your 21st birthday can be used against you years later by a vindictive spouse during a custody dispute.
The good news is that under certain circumstances, you may be able to expunge a DUI conviction from your criminal record. However, the process is complicated, and you stand the best chance of success if you work with an experienced California expungement lawyer.
How to Get a DUI Off Your Record in California
In California, a convicted offender may be able to expunge their criminal record. What this means is that your DUI conviction will no longer be visible when potential employers, landlords, lenders, or members of the general public run a background check on you. You will also be able to answer ‘NO’ when asked if you have been convicted of a criminal offense (provided that you have no other convictions).
Expungement does NOT mean that your record is completely erased, however- it may still be seen by court officials and members of law enforcement who want to determine if you have a criminal record. A DUI conviction will also remain on your California DMV record. Aside from these exceptions, your past mistakes will essentially be invisible.
Who is Eligible for a DUI Expungement in California?
Not all DUI convictions are eligible for expungement. If your DUI was prosecuted as a felony offense and you served time in state prison, you won’t be able to expunge it from your record. Felony proceedings may occur if you caused an accident resulting in serious injury or death or you have at least three prior convictions within the past ten years.
When Can You Expunge Your California DUI?
You may apply to expunge your DUI as soon as your probation ends, provided that you fulfilled all the terms of your probation. Depending on your case, these terms may include:
- DUI school attendance
- Payment of all fines
- Completion of community service
Under California law, the minimum probation term for DUI is three years. You may seek an early termination of your probation, but this is difficult to do, as both courts and prosecutors tend to take an aggressive stance on DUI cases.
If you were not placed on probation, you must wait one year after the date of your conviction.
What if You Are Arrested for DUI Again After an Expungement?
In California, DUI offenses are ‘priorable,’ meaning that the penalties increase with each conviction over a ten-year period, even if you expunge your record. For example, if you are a first-time offender and successfully expunge your conviction, you will be prosecuted for a second-time DUI if you are arrested again within ten years.
Do You Need an Attorney for a DUI Expungement?
Legally, no, but it’s highly recommended.
Many people try to file expungements on their own, only to make a mistake that leads to a denial. Then they have to spend more money hiring counsel to file a motion for reconsideration, followed by a new, corrected application for expungement.
Before granting an expungement, California courts must be convinced that doing so is in the interest of justice, and no judge wants to be perceived as being lenient in DUI cases. You need experienced legal counsel, ideally someone with a strong background as a DUI lawyer.
Amy Chapman has years of experience protecting the rights of DUI clients. She fights to prevent past missteps from limiting your future and will readily help those eligible for an expungement take advantage of this important opportunity to start over.
When you retain the Law Office of Amy Chapman, you benefit from an expungement attorney who will:
- Explain California’s complicated expungement laws to you, so that you know very quickly whether you qualify and what you must do to get it done.
- Gather the required documentation about your DUI conviction, which can be difficult for older records.
- Present a compelling case for why your record should be expunged. It’s not enough to simply qualify- the court must be convinced that the expungement is consistent with public welfare and the interests of justice.
Do You Need to Talk to a DUI Expungement Lawyer?
Find yourself searching for expungement lawyer near me?” An Expungement attorney gives you the chance to clear a DUI from your record and move forward with your life. To schedule a consultation and determine whether you qualify, contact the Law Office of Amy Chapman today.