How to Expunge a California DUI

If you have a California DUI on your record, you can have the conviction expunged under Penal Code 1203.4 PC as long as (1) you were placed on probation for the DUI, and (2) you successfully completed your probation.1

How does a California DUI expungement work?

 As soon as you complete probation for your DUI, you may petition the court to expunge your DUI record.

Under PC 1203.4, a person seeking a DUI expungement will file a petition with the court. The petition is then reviewed by a judge.

If the judge grants the DUI expungement, then either the person withdraws his/her plea of guilty or "no contest" and re-enters a not-guilty plea, or the judge sets aside the guilty verdict entered after trial. After that the case is dismissed.2

If the person was represented by a California DUI defense attorney for the original DUI matter, it will often make sense to have him/her handle the expungement proceedings as well--provided s/he is familiar with the California expungement process.

Will expunging my DUI conviction make it easier for me to find a job?

One major benefit of expunging a California record of DUI conviction is an easier time finding employment. Once a DUI has been expunged, a prospective employer may no longer hold the DUI against you in hiring or promotion considerations.

Expunging a DUI conviction will prevent employers from holding the conviction against you when you apply for a job.

Moreover, you no longer have to disclose the fact of an expunged DUI conviction on job applications.3

However, the DUI expungement does not affect your obligation to disclose the conviction when applying for state licenses or teaching credentials.4

And a state license board may use the DUI conviction against you in deciding whether to grant or renew your license or credential--though it will probably look more favorably on your application if the DUI has been expunged.

Will expunging my DUI help me get my driver's license?

A PC 1203.4 expungement of a DUI will NOT overturn a driver's license suspension or revocation.5

In most cases, DUI probation lasts longer than the period of mandatory driver's license suspension for a DUI. (For example, for a first-time DUI, you are likely to have your license suspended for six months and be sentenced to probation for three to five years.) 

But if your period of license suspension extends beyond your probation, or if your license is permanently revoked, a DUI expungement will not restore your driving privileges.

Expunging a DUI conviction under PC 1203.4 will not restore your driving privileges.

Does an expunged DUI increase the penalties if I get another DUI later?

DUI is a "priorable" offense in California. This means that DUI penalties increase with each DUI conviction you accumulate within a ten-year window.

And an expunged DUI is still priorable--just as if it had not been expunged.6

So, for example, if you are convicted of first-time DUI and have your conviction expunged, and then are convicted of DUI again a few years later, you will be subject to the penalties for a second-time DUI.

Can I get an early termination of probation in a DUI case so I can expunge my DUI earlier?

You are only eligible for a California DUI expungement once your probation is terminated. But for many DUI defendants, that can be a long time to wait.

Following a plea or a jury conviction to a DUI charge, a defendant is usually placed on three to five years of probation. In a misdemeanor case, this is referred to as "summary probation" -- meaning the person does not need to report to a probation officer.

A DUI defendant may petition the court to terminate his/her DUI probation early--for example, after 18 months.

But in reality 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/her 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 a PC 1203.4 DUI expungement and dismissing the case.

Call us for help . . . 


If you or a loved one is interested in expunging a California DUI conviction 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.

Legal References:

  1. Penal Code 1203.4 PC -- California expungement [including expungement of a DUI]. ("("(a) In any case in which a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interests of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the relief available under this section, the defendant shall, at any time after the termination of the period of probation, if he or she is not then serving a sentence for any offense, on probation for any offense, or charged with the commission of any offense, be permitted by the court to withdraw his or her plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if he or she has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below, he or she shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted, except as provided in Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code.")
  2. Same.
  3. California Labor Code 432.7 -- Disclosure of arrest or detention not resulting in conviction or referral or participation in diversion programs; violations; remedies; exception; screening prospective concessionaires.  

    See also California Code of Regulations 7287.4 -- Employee selection.  

  4. Penal Code 1203.4 PC -- California expungement [including expungement of a DUI]. ("The order shall state, and the probationer shall be informed, that the order does not relieve him or her of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery.")
  5. Penal Code 1203.4 PC -- California expungement [including expungement of a DUI]. ("A termination of probation and dismissal of charges pursuant to [California Penal Code] Section 1203.4 or a dismissal of charges pursuant to Section 1203.4a of the Penal Code does not affect any revocation or suspension of the privilege of the person convicted to drive a motor vehicle under this chapter. Such person's prior conviction shall be considered a conviction for the purpose of revoking or suspending or otherwise limiting such privilege on the ground of two or more convictions.")
  6. Penal Code 1203.4 PC -- California expungement [including expungement of a DUI]. ("However, in any subsequent prosecution of the defendant for any other offense, the prior conviction may be pleaded and proved and shall have the same effect as if probation had not been granted or the accusation or information dismissed.")  

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