An Expungement is a petition made to the criminal court (usually the sentencing court) requesting that the conviction be removed from your record and the underlying charges be dismissed. The judge has the discretion to determine whether he or she would like to grant or deny a petition for an Expungement of a DUI conviction.
An Expungement only applies to the criminal conviction. It does not apply to any suspension issued from the DMV. So, if a person is successful in having the criminal conviction expunged in court that person may still have the DUI on his or her DMV record. The DMV typically purges their records after 13-years.
An Expungement does not remove a DUI from a person’s criminal record for purposes of priorability. What this means is that if you have a DUI that is successfully expunged from your criminal record and subsequently are arrested for another DUI within 10-years of the arrest of the expunged DUI, then this new arrest will be a second DUI. The expunged DUI will still be considered a DUI prior.
So, to answer the question that was posed at the beginning of this blog posting as to whether one should get his or her DUI expunged, it truly depends of the reason the person wants the DUI removed from his or her record. For instance, if the reason for the Expungement is to get cheaper car insurance, then the answer is “probably no”. This is because insurance companies typically look at DMV records – not court records. As a result, an Expungement will not have any impact on insurance fees.
Likewise, if one is petitioning to have one’s DUI removed from his or her criminal record in case he or she is arrested for another DUI, then an Expungement is not going to be beneficial. As discussed above, an Expungement does not prevent a DUI from being considered priorable. The DUI will be considered priorable for 10-years from arrest.
Many people petition to have a DUI expunged for employment reasons or to travel internationally. When it comes to employment, people feel that they need not disclose a DUI conviction if it is no longer on their criminal record. With respect to international travel, it is believed that most countries do not have access to expunged criminal convictions. As such, a person may not be excluded from travelling to another country based upon his or her DUI conviction.
So, in closing, to answer the question as to whether you should expunge your conviction, the answer is “it depends”. The determining factor should be based upon why you want the Expungement. The reasons above should provide the benchmark for making your decision.