Can I Seal The Record Or Expunge The Case After A DUI Conviction In California?

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Many people in California have a DUI conviction on their record that doesn’t need to be there. The vast majority of cases in California are eligible to be sealed, reduced, and/or dismissed after the conviction.

In a typical DUI case, there will be three years of summary probation, but we will have the option of terminating probation early if there is a good reason to do so. For example, I recently handled a case wherein my client was an actress who needed to travel to Canada for filming, but would be barred from entering Canada with a DUI on her record. For this reason, we were able to terminate probation early, obtain an expungement, and get the case dismissed. This allowed my client to enter Canada with no problems.

DUI dismissals are discretionary, so we need to convince a judge that it’s the right thing to do. Many judges are going to go with the program on getting these cases dismissed, but some judges will require evidence of rehabilitation since the conviction, to show that a dismissal is in the interest of justice.

Sealing applies when there is no conviction in the first place. When someone is arrested, but the case is never filed in court, or the case is filed and later dismissed without a conviction, we can move to seal the records of arrest.

Does Everyone Qualify For DUI Expungement?

Once someone is off probation for a misdemeanor DUI, they should qualify for DUI expungement. However, it is discretionary, so we will usually include a letter or a declaration with the petition to show the judge what kind of positive steps the defendant

has taken since the conviction, and in what ways the conviction is holding them back from success. With very few exceptions, anyone who has a misdemeanor conviction on their record can qualify for an expungement. In addition, felony convictions that did not lead to an actual state prison term can often be reduced or dismissed.

Will The Outcome Of The DMV Hearing Have Any Impact On My Criminal Case?

The outcome of the DMV hearing will not have an impact on the criminal case; the prosecutors and the court do not care what happens at this hearing. However, there are some ways that a criminal case can impact a DMV process. Specifically, a positive outcome in the criminal case could be used to the defendant’s advantage during the DMV process.

If a case is not filed or is dismissed in court, then we’re supposed to be able to get the prosecutor to fill out a DMV form explaining why that happened and what was wrong with their case. This DMV form can be shown to the DMV hearing officer in an effort to have the suspension set aside. This is an undecided area of law right now, but I am on the forefront of working toward getting DMV actions set aside after the criminal case has been sealed. In other words, if charges are not filed and the statute of limitations runs, we can have the arrest documents sealed. The sealing statute says that the defendant is to be relieved of all disabilities arising from the arrest, and we believe that a DMV action against someone’s license is a disability arising from the arrest. If we’re able to get the court process wrapped up and sealed prior to the DMV process being completed, then we’ll make the argument that the DMV should be precluded from suspending the client’s driver’s license.

If someone suffers a conviction in court or takes a deal, then that will lead to a six-month license suspension from the DMV. If a driver is not convicted in court, the DMV generally will not care. For example, if we were to negotiate a wet or dry reckless driving disposition, the DMV would not care unless we got a not guilty finding on the 23152(b) count (called a Helman dollar disposition), which pertains to the blood alcohol level of 0.08. In summary, there are many ways in which an outcome in court can affect the DMV case, but very little (if anything) in the DMV case that will have an impact in court.

For more information on Sealing/Expungement Of A DUI Case In CA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (323) 529-3660 today.

The DUI Attorney Don Hammond


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