A drunk driving conviction can ruin your reputation, job, and your freedom. If you were convicted of drunk driving, an attorney may be able to help you expunge it from your criminal record. In short, a criminal expungement allows you to erase the offense so that your criminal record no longer reflects the conviction. This means that potential employers, property owners, etc., will not see your DUI when they conduct a background check.
You can only file a petition for expungement if the court placed you on probation and your completed it successfully.
If the judge accepts your petition for expungement, you can withdraw your plea of "guilty" or "no contest" and re-enter a "not guilty" plea. The court will then dismiss your case.
An expungement is like erasing your criminal record, but there are some exceptions. Expungement is most helpful for employment. After a DUI, you may have difficulty finding an employer who is willing to hire you. If your expungement is successful, potential employers will not be able to see your DUI.
Certain parties will be able to see the conviction, even if your file a successful petition for expungement. For instance, you are still obligated to disclose this information while applying for a teaching credential or any form of state licensing.
In California, drunk driving is a "priorable" offense, which means that subsequence convictions within 10 years are subject to heightened charges and sentencing. An expungement does not keep subsequent offenses from accumulating stiffer penalties.
First-time DUIs are usually punishable by three to five years of informal probation. Informal probation does not require you to report to a probation officer. Additionally, you may be able to pursue an early termination of your probation. If the judge grants early termination, you may be able to file a petition for an expungement before the term is over.