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How to Expunge a California DUI

A drunk driving conviction can tarnish your personal and professional reputation; it can jeopardize your job, and your freedom. If you were convicted of drunk driving, a DUI attorney may be able to help you expunge it from your criminal record.

“How does an expungement work?” In short, an expungement allows you to erase the offense so 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. However, it won’t be completely hidden from view.

If you apply for the military, a job in law enforcement, security clearance, or a professional license, those entities will still be able to see it. But for the most part, the expungement will make it so most public entities cannot see the DUI conviction.

Do You Qualify for an Expungement?

You can only file a petition for expungement if the court placed you on probation and you 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 most helpful for employment, higher education and housing. After a DUI, you may have difficulty finding an employer who is willing to hire you. If your expungement is successful, most potential employers will not be able to see your DUI.

Why Expungement is a Good Thing

As we mentioned earlier, 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. Even still, the expungement shows these entities that you were proactive and did everything you could do to make the wrong right.

In California, drunk driving is a "priorable" offense, which means that subsequence convictions within 10 years are subject to enhanced charges and sentencing. An expungement does not keep subsequent offenses from accumulating stiffer penalties.

Related: Does a DUI Stay on My Criminal Record?

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.

To learn more about expunging a DUI in Orange County, contact our firm to schedule a free initial consultation!