In California, a DUI on your police record is a major obstacle as you seek a new job, apply to attend college or grad school, or even when applying for a desirable apartment lease. It can hinder you and haunt you continually as you go through life, making it difficult to achieve your goals.
Is there anything that can be done about it though? Yes, there often is. There are a number of different types of record clearing in California, and record clearing laws apply to DUIs and DUIDs as surely to other types of arrests and criminal convictions.
At The Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel, we have been helping people in Los Angeles and Southern California get a DUI offense expunged or a DUI arrest record sealed for many years. We understand the details of the law and of how this process works.
Contact us today, or anytime 24/7/365, for a free consultation by calling 310-788-8995, and we will help you get started on putting the past behind you!
Expungement of a DUI Offense in California
In California, there are two distinct parts to any DUI, the DMV action and any criminal court action taken against you. As these two facets of the DUI process are distinct after a DUI arrest, they remain distinct when it comes to the DUI record as well.
Ross H. Sobel has over 32 years experience in dealing with all aspects of California DUI and DUID law. He understands how the DMV works and how a DUI jury trial works. He also understands what must be done to get a DUI offense expunged from your criminal record in as little time as possible.
Now, a DMV DUI record can't be expunged because it isn't a criminal conviction. And there is no way to seal or hide a DMV record of a DUI. However, the good news is that the DMV record automatically falls off your record 10 years after the relevant DUI incident.
Not so with a DUI conviction in a court of law. That will stay on you record for life unless and until you take action to get it expunged. Expungement is not an automatic process - the proper paperwork has to be filed at the correct court(s) and specific deadlines and legal requirements have to be met all along the way.
That's why it's not best to try to get a DUI expunged on your own - an experienced DUI lawyer will know how to maximize your chances of success and speed up the process as much as possible.
Both misdemeanor and felony DUIs can be expunged, though it's easier to expunge misdemeanors. And whether you were convicted of DUI under VC 23152 a or b (based on demonstrable intoxication or on the .08 standard, respectively), you can qualify for a DUI expungement under PC 1203.4
Understand that expungement removes "convicted of" from a criminal record and replaces it with "dismissed." It does not simply erase the entire record, however. But also realize that most employers use commercial background checks that only search for "convictions" and thus would not see the record at all in that case. Plus, many potential employers will not hold a dismissed (expunged) charge against you - and they are not legally allowed to do so.
Who Is Eligible for DUI Expungement in California?
Once you have successfully finished DUI probation, paid all fines, court fees, and restitution judgments, completed DUI School or community service, and basically 100% fulfilled the sentence the judge handed you for your past DUI, you are eligible for expungement immediately.
But additionally, you must not have served time in state prison for the offense OR if you did, it needs to be a DUI that would have been punished (at least potentially) by county jail time instead if the offense had occurred after Prop 47 Realignment. (Prop 47 changed many felonies into misdemeanors and "realigned" sentencing in California in many ways.)
The large majority of those with DUIs on their record in California would, in fact, meet these requirements.
If so, the process begins with a petition. The prosecution can contest the request if they wish. Then there is ultimately a hearing to determine the outcome. It's extremely important to have good representation at your expungement hearing, especially if the petition for expungement is contested.
Early Termination of DUI Probation
If you meet all other requirements for a DUI expungement but are still serving probation, it's still possible you could hurry up and get the DUI expunged.
This can be done by petitioning for early termination of probation at the same time we file your DUI expungement petition. DUI probation, both for misdemeanor and felony level probation, is generally 3 to 5 years. But that time can often be shortened to as little as a year and a half if a judge grants early termination.
It is at the court's discretion to decide if they will grant early termination of your probationary period. You don't usually have to have a perfect probation record, but the judge will want to see at least substantial compliance, an honest effort, and improvement.
You also will have to have finished all other sentencing elements, like DUI School, drug abuse programs, paying of fines, etc.
And if you show the judge why you need the probation ended early - for example, to get a good job, a promotion, visit family in another state, apply for a state-issued professional license, or apply for college enrollment, that can help you get approved as well.
But while early termination does happen and may be worth pursuing, most often, judges are slow to grant it - and you may need to simply finish your probationary period before applying for expungement. But a good lawyer will know when it's worth trying to get an early termination and how to maximize the chances of getting one.
What DUI Expungement Can and Cannot Do
As mentioned earlier, expungement will make it much easier for you to find and keep a good job. Many employers won't even consider someone with a DUI on his/her record.
But California bans employers from asking about past arrests/conviction before making a "conditional offer of employment." And the state also bans denying a job based on an expunged offense. Plus, many background checks used by employers only ask for convictions, and as an expunged offense comes up as "dismissed," it won't come up at all on that type of background check.
You can legally say on a job application you were never convicted of an offense that has been expunged, unless it's an application for a law enforcement job, a state lotto job, or for many state-issued professional licenses.
An expungement may look better on your record than a conviction to a state licensing board, but they are still allowed to deny the license based on the offense if they so choose.
Expungement does not restore your driving privileges. But normally, that's not an issue since license suspensions typically end before probation does - and may end even before an early termination of probation would take effect, if it were granted.
Also, an expunged DUI is still a prior as to any future DUIs - so it could increase the sentence if you got a DUI again.
Arrest Record Clearing
A process completely distinct from expungement that may also help you put a DUI behind you is called arrest record clearing.
If you have a DUI conviction, you need an expungement. If you were arrested but not convicted, you should seek to clear the arrest record instead.
Arrest record clearing prevents the arrest from showing up on background checks, and a cleared record can often be destroyed years later, making the "erasure" even more permanent and complete.
If your case was dismissed or you won an acquittal, you can likely get the arrest record cleared. But if charges were never filed, you have to wait for the statute of limitations to expire - for example, for a misdemeanor DUI, the statute is one year. That means you would have to wait a year past the arrest date before filing to have the arrest record sealed - IF no charges wre ever formally filed against you for that incident.
Attorney Ross H. Sobel can help you determine if you qualify for an expungement or arrest record sealing. If so, he can efficiently and effectively handle your case from beginning to end.
We have a strong record of successfully expunging or sealing our clients' DUI records.
Contact Us Today for Help!
At The law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel, we have deep legal expertise in all types of California record clearing as they apply to DUIs.
We will know how to help you get your DUI arrest or conviction expunged or sealed so you will fare much better in applying for a job, a professional license, college, or other pursuits in life.
Contact our Los Angeles DUI Attorney anytime 24/7 by calling 310-788-8995 for a free legal consultation and immediate attention to your case!