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Benefits of an expunged DUI
An expunged record will help relieve some of the burdens of living with a DUI. The drinking and driving charge will not show up on most criminal background checks, thus allowing you to truthfully report to potential employers that you do not have a criminal conviction. An expunged record may also allow you to take advantage of federally funded public assistance programs such as food stamps or federally assisted housing should you qualify for them.
How to apply for an expungement
In contrast to a look-back period, an expungement does not take place automatically after time has passed; you will need to qualify for an expungement and also apply for one. Not every state allows for the expungement of DUIs. For instance, in Illinois, the only way to have a DUI conviction removed from your record is to get a pardon from the governor. Most states will have a petition that you will need to fill out and submit before the court may consider your expungement request. Some of the necessary documentation can include:
- Declaration forms
- Proof of completion of any sentencing (e.g., probation)
- Affidavits from people who are willing to verify submitted information on your behalf
- Some states require multiple affidavits
- Documents supporting your written request to the state
Before you submit your petition to the court, the district attorney responsible for your DUI prosecution will need to review it. If the district attorney does not have any objections to your request, they will return the signed petition to you. This approval process can take up to 60 days. You may also need to pay filing fees to submit your forms. The fee amount will vary by state. If the district attorney objects to your request, you will not be able to expunge your DUI arrest.
Limitations of expungement
Not all DUIs can be expunged, and there are limitations on the impact an expungement will have:
- Some states may allow an expungement only if it is your first offense.
- If media coverage exists outside the purview of the courts, it will not be able to be removed by the courts after an expunged conviction (e.g., Google search results, social media, and news stories).
- Not all employers are blind to an expunged DUI. Government agencies, health care organizations, law enforcement agencies, and school districts may have the ability to view any expunged criminal records.
- An expungement will not affect your driver’s license restriction or other issues the Department of Motor Vehicles manages.
- An expunged record may still be visible on your driving record if you have not surpassed your state’s look-back period.
- If you receive an expungement for your first DUI conviction and then are convicted of a second DUI, the courts may use your first offense to warrant issuing more severe penalties.
If you are interested in starting the expungement process for your DUI, it is important to have all your documentation ready and prepare for any questions that may be asked of you by the courts. DUI.org has DUICare experts available to answer your inquiries, along with a wealth of free resources accessible anytime. If you need a referral to a qualified DUI attorney in your area, please call DUI.org at (833) 989-1443.