Anyone can expunge a California DUI, DWI or drunk driving conviction, so long as (1) he or she was placed on probation and (2) he or she successfully completed probation. At the end of the probationary period, the person may petition the court to expunge the DUI record. If the person was represented by a California DUI defense attorney for the original DUI matter, that attorney will usually handle the expungement proceedings as well.
A DUI expungement functions the same as any other California criminal record expungement. A petition is filed with the court and then reviewed by the judge. If the judge grants the DUI expungement, the person withdraws her plea of guilty or no contest, re-enters her plea of "Not Guilty" and the case is dismissed.
What are the effects of a DUI expungement in California?
The primary value of expunging a record of DUI conviction is for employment purposes. Once it has been expunged, a prospective employer may no longer hold the DUI against you in hiring or promotion considerations. Moreover, you no longer have to disclose the fact of the DUI conviction on job applications.
However, the DUI expungement does not affect your obligation to disclose the conviction when applying for state licenses or teaching credentials. And a state license board may use the DUI conviction against you in deciding whether to grant or renew a person's license or credential.
Moreover, a DUI remains "priorable" in California for 10 years, even if the conviction is expunged. That means that if you should sustain another DUI conviction within the 10 year window, the court and DMV will treat it as a repeat offense, even if the prior DUI was expunged.
Can you get an early termination of probation in a DUI case?
Following a plea or a jury conviction to a DUI charge, a defendant is usually placed on 3 to 5 years of probation. In a misdemeanor case, this is referred to as "summary probation" or "informal probation" -- meaning the person does not need to report to a probation officer. The defendant may petition the court to terminate the DUI probation early, for example after 18 months.
In reality, however, most judges are very reluctant to grant an early termination of probation in a DUI case. One of the terms of DUI probation is that the person may not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in his system. Judges generally want to see the defendant bound by this term for as long as possible. Therefore, most judges will require the defendant to serve the complete term of probation before granting the DUI expungement and dismissing the case.
Call us for help
If you or loved one is in need of help with DUI expungement and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.
To learn more about how to seal Nevada DUI records, read our article on how to seal Nevada DUI records.