A DUI conviction not only carries fines and possibly jail ... it also goes on the defendant's criminal record. Even if the DUI charge gets dismissed, the arrest still shows up in background checks.
Drunk driving convictions look bad to potential employers and carry a social stigma. But it may be possible to get the DUI "sealed" from the person's record so it no longer comes up on background checks.
In this article, our Nevada drunk driving defense lawyers explain when and how criminal records may be sealed in Nevada DUI cases. They also reveal how DUI charges that get reduced to reckless driving may be sealed much faster. Scroll down to learn more.
What does getting a DUI record "sealed" mean in Nevada?
Criminal records are public information. But when a court "seals" a person's conviction for the Nevada crime of drunk driving, the record of that conviction may then be hidden from all the government databases that store criminal records. Then the general public can no longer see or access the DUI conviction information.
How long is it before someone can get his/her DUI conviction sealed in Nevada?
It depends on whether the DUI was a misdemeanor in Nevada or a felony in Nevada. (A DUI is charged as a felony only if it resulted in serious injury or death or if it was the defendant's third DUI in seven years. Learn more about felony DUI in Nevada.)
Defendants convicted of misdemeanor DUI need to wait seven (7) years after the case is closed before they may petition the court to get the record sealed. In contrast, defendants convicted of felony DUI need to wait fifteen (15) years.
If someone's DUI charges get dismissed, how long does he/she have to wait before getting the arrest record sealed in Nevada?
If the prosecutor drops the DUI charges ... and therefore the defendant never gets convicted ... the defendant may petition to get the arrest record sealed immediately. There is no wait.
If someone's DUI charges get reduced to reckless driving, how long does he/she have to wait before getting the arrest record sealed in Nevada?
If a DUI defendant instead pleads to the Nevada crime of reckless driving as part of a plea bargain, he/she then has to wait only two (2) years after the case is closed to pursue a record seal. Moapa criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse explains:
In 2011, Diana is arrested by the Henderson Police for DUI and is booked at the Henderson Detention Center. Diana's attorney then works out a plea bargain whereby the DUI charges are reduced to reckless driving. In 2012, the judge closes the case after Diana successfully completes all the sentence terms. Diana should then be able to get the record sealed two years later in 2014. Had she not gotten the DUI charges reduced to reckless driving, she would instead have to wait until 2019.
What is the DUI record sealing process like in Nevada?
It is time-consuming, complicated, and tedious, which is why it is recommended that defendants retain experienced counsel to handle all the paperwork. Otherwise, it is easy to make little mistakes that could jeopardize ever getting the record sealed. Read the step-by-step details in our article how to seal criminal records in Nevada.
Are all DUI record seal applications successful in Nevada?
Usually yes if the record seal application is done correctly. If the court denies a record seal application, applicants have to wait another two years before making a final bid to seal the record.
How long does the DUI record sealing process take in Nevada?
Several months. Most of it is simply waiting to hear back from government agencies such as the Nevada Criminal History Repository.
What are the benefits of getting a DUI record sealed in Nevada?
The main benefit is that sealed records no longer appear on background checks. Therefore prospective employers, landlords and creditors will not know about it. And people who have had their record sealed may legally say ... even under oath ... that they have never had a DUI.
Mesquite criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:
Allan got a DUI in Las Vegas when he was younger but has since had the record sealed. His boss goes to him and says that he heard through a mutual friend that Allan once had a DUI. The boss then says that he does not want anybody with a DUI working for him. Since Allan had the record sealed, Allan can lawfully deny that he had a DUI.
Another benefit of record seals is specific to felony DUI: Once the record is sealed, the defendant is usually restored his/her rights to vote, hold office or serve on a jury.
Is there anyone that can see a sealed DUI record in Nevada?
Only under very limited circumstances. Certain agencies like the Nevada Gaming Control Board may see a person's criminal record to determine their fitness to hold a gaming license. And prosecutors or other people involved in the DUI incident may petition the court to open the records to find information relevant to their case.
Is getting a record "sealed" the same as getting a record "expunged"?
Not quite. Unlike California, Nevada does not offer record expungements. An expungment is when the criminal conviction is deemed dismissed. In contrast, a seal is when the criminal record is made invisible but is still there. Expungements are thought to be better than seals, but practically speaking they have the same effect.
Accused of DUI? Call a lawyer for help ...
If you are facing a DUI conviction in Nevada, it is important to have your criminal records sealed as soon as possible. Phone our Las Vegas DUI Defense Attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation. We will take care of all the procedures and paperwork so that the DUI will not show up on your background check.
We represent clients throughout Nevada, including Las Vegas, Henderson, Washoe County, Reno, Carson City, Laughlin, Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Elko, Pahrump, Searchlight and Tonopah.
To learn how to expunge California DUI records, read our article on how to expunge California DUI records.