Arizona DUI convictions remain on defendants’ criminal records forever. There is no way to seal or expunge them. However, it may be possible to get a conviction for driving under the influence “set aside.” Employers are much more likely to hire people if their criminal records show that a conviction has been set aside.
Who do DUI “set asides” do in Arizona?
Once an Arizona DUI conviction has been set aside under ARS 13-905, the defendant’s criminal record indicates that he/she has completed the sentence. Set asides appear on future background checks. This way, potential employers can see that the person completed all the requirements for the case.
How do I get a set aside?
Defendants whose DUI cases have closed may file an Application to Set Aside a Prior Conviction with the court where the case occurred. There is no filing fee for this application. And there is no waiting period to apply for a set aside once the court discharged the DUI case.
The court may then schedule a hearing to determine whether to grant a set aside. Factors the courts consider include:
- The details of the DUI case
- How well the defendant complied with probation
- The defendant’s criminal history, including prior DUIs
- Whether the defendant paid any required restitution
- The defendant’s age when the conviction occurred
- Any other relevant factors
Are set asides as good as an expungement or record seal?
No, because set aside convictions are still visible on background checks. Expunged or sealed records are not. But since Arizona law does not offer DUI expungements or record seals, conviction set asides are the best options for defendants with a criminal record.
How can I avoid a DUI conviction to begin with?
Depending on the facts of the case, there are dozens of potential DUI defenses that could persuade an Arizona D.A. to reduce or dismiss the charges. Ten common arguments that DUI lawyers use are:
- The police lacked reasonable suspicion to pull over the defendant;
- The police did not administer the field sobriety tests correctly;
- Law enforcement had insufficient probable cause to make a DUI arrest;
- The defendant had a medical condition that caused the breathalyzer to show a high BAC number (such as GERD or acid-reflux);
- The defendant’s dental work (such as a bridge) had pooled alcohol and caused the breathalyzer to show a high BAC result;
- The defendant was suffering from a medical episode – such as a diabetic coma – that resembled being intoxicated;
- The breathalyzer was defective;
- The police officer did not conduct a 15-minute observation period before administering the evidentiary breath test;
- The blood samples were contaminated; and/or
- The lab techs who calibrated the breathalyzer or handled the blood samples let their certifications lapse.
Anyone charged with a DUI is encouraged to retain legal counsel as soon as possible to begin crafting a defense. Otherwise, even a first offense conviction for violating Arizona DUI laws carries jail time, fines, and a driver’s license suspension by the MVD which could threaten the defendant’s livelihood. Plus, employers are less likely to hire applicants with any criminal conviction, even if it was for a misdemeanor and has been set aside.
Facing DUI charges or other traffic violation charges in the state of Arizona? Contact our criminal defense law offices to discuss creating an attorney-client relationship. We serve clients accused of DUI offenses in Phoenix and throughout the state.