What is DUI Expungement?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 20 January 2020
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A driving under the influence (DUI) expungement is a relief a person may secure after facing DUI charges. When a person obtains a DUI expungement, his conviction record is cleared, sealed, or destroyed. The exact effect a DUI expungement has on a person’s record may depend on the laws in his jurisdiction, however, and expunging a DUI can mean different things in different places. As such, a person who wants to have a DUI expunged will typically do well to consult a lawyer in his jurisdiction. The lawyer should be able to provide him with not only information about having a DUI expunged, but also details about how the completion of this process may help him.

When a person obtains a DUI expungement, this typically means his DUI conviction is set aside. Instead of the guilty judgment he would normally have on his record, a not-guilty judgment is usually entered instead. As a result, the offender is typically relieved of all remaining penalties or restrictions that he faced because of the conviction. In some ways, it’s like starting with a clean slate.

While many people think of a DUI expungement in terms of having conviction records cleared, the process may apply to other types of records as well. When an expungement is granted, complaints against the offender and arrest records may be cleared as well. Likewise, related trial and detention records are usually expunged as part of this process.


In many cases, having a DUI expunged can make life a little easier for a person who has been convicted of driving under the influence. For example, a DUI expungement prevents future employers from learning about the DUI arrest or conviction via a background check. It may also help a person qualify for lower insurance rates. Once a person has a DUI expunged, he basically has a clean record all over again.

It’s important to note that a DUI expungement doesn’t necessarily mean a person’s DUI record completely disappears. In some places, an expunged DUI may come back to haunt a person who is subsequently arrested for driving under the influence. For example, if a person succeeds at obtaining a DUI expungement and then goes on to commit a new offense, a court may allow his prior record to be used in the new case. In some cases, having a prior record may lead to more serious charges and stiffer penalties.

A DUI expungement isn't usually an automatic right. Instead, it's typically considered a privilege, and each jurisdiction may have unique guidelines for determining who should have this privilege. In many cases, however, it is reserved for first-time offenders.


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