At-Fault for a DUI Accident: Can You Clear Your Record?
When a momentary lapse in judgment results in a DUI accident, it can have long-lasting effects on your life. If you’ve had a moving violation when you were behind the wheel, then you might be wondering if you can ever clear your record.
The good news is that there are ways to overcome these driving record issues. Depending on the situation, you might not be able to clean your record entirely. But there are often solutions to minimize the damage the violation causes in your life.
DUI Accident Can Result in a Criminal Record
Unlike other driving violations, a DUI is a criminal record. The wise decision is to work with an experienced DUI attorney who can offer professional advice for your situation.
If you want to clear your record from a DUI, then talk to your attorney about the best way to proceed. There are two options to consider in this situation: having the record sealed or expunged.
Option #1: Sealing a DUI Record
Your DUI attorney might recommend a strategy to seal your records. When this process is successful, it means that the information about your arrest and/or DUI conviction isn’t available to the public. Both the electronic and physical documentation of your DUI are kept private.
Sealing your DUI record is helpful for the future. This sealed record isn’t accessible or visible on future background checks or public records. Sealing your record clears the slate as if nothing ever happened.
One benefit of sealing the record is that you don’t have a legal obligation to talk about the criminal history. For example, if a job interviewer asks if you have a record, you can answer “no” since the record doesn’t show on your background check.
Option #2: Expunging the DUI Record
The second option to consider is a DUI record expungement. Through this process, the court destroys all documentation about the DUI arrest or conviction. As a result, there is no longer information about your criminal record on file.
Even though expungement erases your criminal history, one copy of the criminal record stays on file with the law enforcement agency.
Comparing Your Options: Sealing vs. Expungement
Should you seek to seal or expunge the record? It’s important that you understand the difference between these two options:
- Sealing a Record: When you seal the record, it means there is still a history of your file within the criminal justice system. Sealing the record makes the information inaccessible to the public.
- Expunging a Record: On the other hand, expungement destroys the documentation, so the information is no longer in the criminal justice system.
Your attorney will help you determine the optimal course of action after a DUI accident. The requirements for expunging a record are different than sealing a record. So, it’s necessary to consider your unique situation before deciding on the ideal course of action.
Requirements to Clear Your DUI
Will you qualify to clear a DUI from your criminal record? In most situations, you must meet these requirements:
- You don’t have any other expungements or sealed records
- Your probation is complete
- You are paid in full for reimbursement, DUI fines, and restitution
- Your court sentencing is complete
- You have a minimum of a year history since your DUI conviction
- Your conviction is a misdemeanor
- You don’t have charges for any other offenses
Additionally, the requirements to expunge a record are stricter. If you are seeking expungement, then you must meet these qualifications:
- You were arrested for DUI, but they never filed charges
- The court decides to dismiss or drop the case
- The outcome of your trial is that you are not guilty
If you decide to plead guilty, then the only option available is to seal the criminal record. But, if you maintain a clean record for several years, then there might be a possibility to expunge the record in the future.
Clearing Criminal and Driving Records
One important thing you need to understand is that you need to clear two separate record systems. Charges from a DUI accident not only affect your criminal record, but they can also affect your driving record.
So, if you are working on expungement for a criminal record, then you might have additional work to clear your DMV record as well.
Steps to Follow After a DUI Accident
If you are at fault in a DUI accident, don’t wait before hiring a DUI attorney. Unfortunately, some people think they don’t need legal representation until they are charged for the accident. But an attorney can assist in the earliest stages. As a result, you can avoid common issues down the road.
Here are a few simple steps to follow:
- Hire a DUI Attorney: Always choose a legal team with experience in DUI accidents and criminal records. Hiring an attorney who specializes in DUI gives you access to specialized support. As a result, it increases the likelihood of success with your case.
- File an Application: The next step is for your lawyer to file an application with the court. This process happens in the county court where they arrested you.
- Certificate of Eligibility: If the court approves your application, then you receive a certificate of eligibility. At this point, your DUI lawyer can file a petition to either expunge or seal your record. Having an experienced lawyer is essential to ensure an accurate, compelling petition.
- Court Review: The court must review your petition, then decide whether they will deny or grant your petition.
- Seal or Expunge the Record: When the court grants your petition, then they send an order to either expunge or seal your DUI record.
Depending on your location and the type of record you are contesting, this process can take as long as six months. An experienced attorney helps to speed up the process by avoiding common delays.
AMA Law Can Help
Do you need help after a DUI accident? Then it’s time to call an Oklahoma attorney for assistance. Contact our team at your convenience to learn about available services to clear your criminal and driving record.