Having a DUI conviction on your record is like going through life with a weight strapped to your ankle. It may not keep you from going everywhere you want to, but it does make some parts of your life more difficult.
A DUI can affect your credit, creating an extra hurdle when you need to apply for a mortgage or a student loan. It can affect your ability to get a new job or get into the school you want to attend, as many employers and admissions boards will use the conviction to reject your application. The conviction can also affect your personal life as your reputation among friends, family, and the rest of your community may suffer if you have a criminal record.
Cleaning Up Your Record: What is an Expungement?
You could have your DUI record expunged[/caption]The good news is that California is one of many states that allow people who have been convicted of DUI (as well as other crimes) to have their conviction expunged from their record. An expungement is a legal process that allows you to petition the court to review your record, set aside the DUI conviction, and dismiss your case.
It is important to know that while expunging your record can be very helpful, the process doesn’t give you a completely clean slate. An expungement will not mean that your conviction cannot cause you other trouble down the line. For example, if your career requires a state license of some type – such as a state bar license, a medical license or teaching credentials – the DUI conviction can still be used to deny you the. Even if your DUI is expunged, the conviction counts as a prior offense if you are charged with another DUI within 10 years of your original conviction.
Still, an expungement has some very positive effects, mostly on your employment prospects. Once your record has been expunged, you no longer have to disclose your conviction on job applications, which means potential employers cannot hold the conviction against you. The conviction will also no longer affect your credit report, meaning it will be easier to get a loan to buy a house or a new car. It may not be a perfect solution, but it can make living with a DUI on your record a lot easier.
Expungement (Penal Code Section 1203.4)
To be eligible for an expungement in California, you must not have served a state prison sentence. If you were sentenced to county jail, probation, a fine, or a combination of these sentences, you may be eligible to have your case expunged. Before your misdemeanor case can be expunged, you must:
- complete the term of probation on your conviction;
- pay all restitution and fines ordered by the court;
- finish all court programs, such as DUI school or MADD Victim Impact Panels; and
- have no new convictions pending.
If your DUI conviction was a felony, you should first have your attorney make a motion with the court to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor before it can be expunged. Reducing the crime to a misdemeanor before expungement will prevent you from losing the rights that you would under a felony, such as the right to own firearms.
California Penal Code Section 17(b) allows for crimes that are “wobblers” (meaning that they can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor) to be reduced to misdemeanors. The court will consider a number of factors in deciding whether to grant your motion, such as the facts of your case, your prior criminal history (if any), and whether you have complied with the terms of your probation.
Once your felony has been reduced to a misdemeanor, you may be able to get the misdemeanor expunged under California Penal Code section 1203.4.
Modification or Termination of your Probation (Penal Code Section 1203.3)
If you are currently on probation, your attorney may be able request a modification or early termination of your probation in order to help you obtain an expungement. Under California Penal Code section 1203.3, the court has the discretion to revoke, modify, or change the terms of your probation order at any time during the term of probation. This includes the ability to terminate your probation term early.
However, keep in mind that the choice to terminate the probation early is up to the court, and the prosecution may fight against a motion to terminate. In DUI cases, some judges prefer that defendants complete their entire probation, because one of the purposes of probation is for the defendant to show that they will not commit the crime again. In DUI cases, one of the terms of probation is that you cannot drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system for the entire period of probation. It is the opinion of many judges that terminating probation early defeats the purpose of this condition.
Nevertheless, if the court grants the motion to terminate your probation early, you can then move forward to getting the conviction expunged and your case dismissed.
Call an Experienced Wallin & Klarich DUI Attorney Today
At Wallin & Klarich, we know the impact a DUI conviction can have on your life. That is why we are here to help. Our skilled attorneys can help you expunge your DUI conviction. Our attorneys have been successfully helping clients clear their criminal records for over 30 years.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich DUI defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.