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For many people who are convicted of driving under the influence in California, the conviction is the only mark on their otherwise clean criminal record. These defendants may be extremely eager to have the conviction expunged as quickly as possible for a number of reasons. The conviction may be preventing the defendant from getting a certain job or promotion or may be limiting his or her housing prospects. People often have many questions about the DUI expungement process in California and what it means to have a DUI conviction expunged.
Under California Penal Code Section 1203.4, a defendant who has completed his or her term of probation can petition the sentencing court to have the matter expunged. If the petition is granted, the conviction that was entered on the official court record would be vacated and the case would be dismissed. This would subsequently be reported to the California Department of Justice who would make the correction to the defendant’s criminal recor
For many people who have a DUI on their record, the conviction may be preventing them from qualifying for certain jobs or security clearances. The expungement may allow the defendant to subsequently pass a criminal background check though the defendant would have to reveal the fact that he or she was convicted of a criminal offense if asked as part of an application.
There are several unique aspects of DUI expungements that are important to remember. Under California Penal Code Section 1203.4, it is within the discretion of the judge whether or not to grant the defendant’s petition to expunge a DUI conviction. Because of this it is highly recommended that anyone considering a DUI expungement should retain an experienced DUI attorney to handle the motion. An experienced DUI expungement attorney can make sure that the petition is correctly filed and that the defendant’s case is effectively argued in court.
It is also important to remember that even if a DUI conviction is expunged from a defendant’s criminal record, the old conviction can still be used to enhance any future DUI conviction as long as the prior conviction occurred within ten years of the subsequent DUI offense. In addition, a defendant can only have the conviction expunged from his or her criminal record. There is no way to remove the DUI from the defendant’s driving record, and this would continue to affect insurance rates and future suspensions. A DUI automatically drops off a person’s driving record after 10 years.
Most expungements are filed after a defendant has fully completed his or her probation term. There may be instances where a defendant needs an early termination of probation as well as an expungement. In these cases, the Court may entertain a motion pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1203.3 to terminate probation early as well as an expungement motion. The Court will want to make sure that the defendant has completed all of the terms of his or her probation before considering a motion to end probation early.