According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the average person with a drunk driving charge on their record drives drunk 80 times before they are actually caught. MADD also reports that at least 50 percent of every person with a suspended license due to a drunk driving conviction drives with that suspended license.
Getting pulled over for driving with a suspended license comes with its own criminal charges, but a DUI charge tends to stick on your criminal record for a very long time. People who have quit drinking and have become productive citizens find it difficult to find work or rent an apartment because their DUI is still on their criminal record for many years later.
What can a person do about a DUI that keeps ruining their life? They can ask for an expunged DUI.
What Can Change With An Expunged DUI?
If you have never experienced trying to get through life with criminal charges on your record, then you have no frame of reference for what people with a criminal record go through. The justice system says that it attempts to rehabilitate people and make them productive members of society, but it is hard to be productive when a DUI from many years ago follows you around your entire life.
A DUI charge on your record can:
- Prevent you from getting a job
- Prevent you from renting an apartment
- Prevent you from getting approved for a car or home loan
- Prevent you from getting approved for credit of any kind
There are many people who go through the court programs and decide to clean their lives up. In that way, the system has done a service to people who needed help. But when it is 10 years later and that rehabilitated person cannot get a job or a place to live because of their conviction record, then the system fails in the long run. The only solution is to try and get an expunged DUI to get that conviction off of the person’s record.
How Can You You Change Your Conviction?
An expunged DUI is a conviction that is either sealed by the courts or wiped from a person’s criminal record. The DUI should no longer show up on any background checks, but courts can still see it when they look up the person’s past convictions. This will prevent potential employers or landlords from using a DUI against a person in the application process.
Expungement Varies In Different States
All matters dealing with drunk driving laws are handled by the states, which means that the expungement process is different in each state. Some states do not offer expungement at all. States such as Florida only allow an expungement for arrests that did not lead to convictions. States like California are a bit more lenient with their expungement laws, but the process is extremely long.
If your DUI conviction was your first one, you have no other convictions for any other crimes, and you have completed all of your penalties and fines for your DUI, then you may have a chance at expungement. However, if you have more than one DUI or you have other crimes on your criminal record, then an expungement in any state would be nearly impossible.
The process for getting an expungement starts with a petition to the court to request an expungement, and then the process would go from there. The process is different in every state, and it can be extremely confusing. If you do decide to go after an expungement, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney with experience in those issues.
In the state of Pennsylvania, the conditions for expungement can be a little strange and extreme. You can only get an expungement in PA if you:
- Have no disposition on record
- Are 70 years old and have been out of prison for at least 10 years
- Served your full sentence and completed all of your court-assigned tasks (paid fines, served community service, etc.)
Despite the conditions for expungement, it is actually a quick and relatively simple process. Your attorney submits the paperwork and the judge decides if your DUI should be expunged. In PA, the entire process takes about four months.
Is An Expungement A Good Idea?
As we mentioned, an expungement can take a long time, cost a lot of money, and be a very confusing process. Even if you get your expungement, your information may still be visible to certain types of background checks. The degree to which an expungement offers you a chance at getting your life back depends on the state your conviction was in, and how that state executes expungements.
If you are intent on trying to get your DUI conviction expunged from your record, then you need to contact an experienced attorney who can tell you if that option is even available or not. If an expungement will clear your record as far as background checks go, then it could be worth it.