If you are ever tried and convicted of driving under the influence in California, it might seem like your whole world has come crashing down around you. Your driving privileges may be limited, revoked, or suspended, you may have to spend some time in jail, and you may have to abide by a number of court orders including the completion of a DUI education course, completion of a driving course, and/or completion of an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program. Failure to obey a court order or driving restriction is serious business in California that could land you back in jail and back before a judge.
Many Years of Consequences
Even after you have paid your debt to society by way of a jail term, community service, or supervised probation, you may still feel the effects of a DUI conviction for several years, if not decades. This is because your criminal history record, which is considered public domain and accessible by just about anyone, will reflect the DUI conviction for the rest of your life. There is, however, hope for having a conviction expunged.
California law allows individuals convicted of certain crimes who comply with all of the terms of their sentences to apply for expungement. An expungement will re-open a case so that the charges can be dismissed. Since a person’s debt to society has been paid by their compliance with all of the terms of a sentence, the law sees little benefit in keeping such a devastating blemish on a person’s record for many years.
Conviction Becomes Dismissal
Essentially, an expungement will convert your DUI conviction into a dismissal, which will have the same impact as if the case had been dismissed prior to any sentence being handed down. If a potential employer runs a background check and you have had a case expunged, the check will only reveal that the case was dismissed. Most employers, however, only run a background check for convictions. Since the case was expunged and ultimately dismissed, a check for only convictions will reveal no negative findings.
Department of Justice background checks will reveal all of your criminal history, including all arrests, all charges, and all court cases ever attached to your name. However, even with this kind of background check, a case that has been expunged will still only come up as a dismissed case. Since having a dismissed case on a record is much more beneficial than having a conviction on a record, it is in your best interests to pursue an expungement of your DUI conviction, as the state will not automatically grant an DUI expungement without an official request.
A DUI Attorney Can Help Expunge DUI Convictions
An experienced DUI attorney can help you apply to have your DUI conviction expunged, assuming you and your case meet the requirements for expungement. A DUI attorney will know exactly what types of DUI cases may be expunged and can help you with filling out all of the necessary forms. If you must attend an DUI expungement hearing, the attorney will further represent you and your interests before the judge.