You may have heard of this process. It's called expungement, and its cleansing name evokes images of a scrubbed, blemish-free record. Well, think again. It is of some use, but it is not the reset button that you might be hoping for.
Expunged DUIs, for example, are still on your driving record and still count as priors for subsequent DUIs for ten years. Thorough internet background checks will probably still find a record of the conviction as well.
Though the expungement law has a lot of shortcomings, there are some tangible benefits. For one, you can stop checking that box on job applications that says, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” It can truly help with those seeking employment.
Despite the EEOC’s efforts to keep employers from considering criminal convictions that are unrelated to the job, employers probably still will be influenced by a drunk driving conviction. Having it removed should still be considered as a benefit.
The other main benefit is simply the closure and peace of mind that comes from knowing that the entire process is behind you. This motion clears your record (somewhat) and allows you to move on.
For most DUI offenders, their offense was charged as a misdemeanor. If you’ve completed all of the court-required punishment, including fines, jail time, probation, and education classes, you are probably eligible to file for expungement.
If you were charged as a felon, you too could be eligible. Penal Code 17(b) allows the court to reduce certain offenses, post-conviction, to a misdemeanor offense. This allows those to be expunged as well. However, only a select few felony offenses are eligible, so this is a case-specific matter best discussed with an attorney.
So, you’ve got your felony reduced, or you had a misdemeanor offense in the first place. The process should be as simple as filing a 1203.4 form (warning: the form seems to hate Google Chrome) with your local court. If you’ve completed all of the terms of your sentence, the approval should be automatic.
The form is a simple one-pager that you can probably complete yourself. However, if you are unsure at all about whether you are eligible or unsure about how to fill it out, consulting an attorney can save you from the headache.