If you have a previous felony or misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence (DUI) criminal conviction you may be eligible to have the case expunged from your record. California Penal Code Section 1203.4 allows a person who has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation to petition the Court to have their criminal conviction vacated and the case dismissed. If you are still currently on probation, under Penal Code Section 1203.3 you may petition the court to terminate probation early and request a dismissal. The petitioner must not be serving a sentence for any other offense, on probation for another offense, or currently charged with another criminal offense. All probation requirements, such as DUI classes, restitution, and court fines, must be completed and paid before the Court will grant the dismissal request (or before you can request early termination of DUI probation). You will not be eligible if you did not successfully complete probation, e.g. you violated probation and you were sentenced to jail rather than being placed back on probation.
EXPUNGEMENT OF YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD
The process of obtaining a dismissal pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 is commonly referred to as an "expungement" of a criminal conviction. If you were convicted of DUI, you are eligible to have the conviction expunged. However, for convictions after January 1, 2009, DUI expungements are discretionary. This means that it is up to the Judge whether or not to grant your petition for dismissal.
Obtaining a dismissal pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 brings with it a lot of benefits. You can answer on many (but not all) job applications that you have not been convicted of a criminal offense. By law, a private employer cannot ask a job applicant about any misdemeanor conviction dismissed under Section 1203.4 (*the law is not clear as to whether they can ask about a felony conviction that was expunged). The court entry for your case will show the words "DISMISSED" rather than "CONVICTED." The conviction cannot be used against you to impeach you if you are testifying as witness (unless it is being used against you for a subsequent offense).
While it is recommended to anyone who has been convicted of DUI that they seek to get the conviction expunged, a couple of things should be noted. An expungement is not a complete erasure of your criminal record (this would be a "sealing"). A case that has been dismissed pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4 still remains on your record for several purposes. A DUI conviction still counts as a "prior" conviction. For example, if you were convicted of DUI in 2012, successfully completed summary probation in 2015, were granted an expungement in 2016, and picked up a new DUI in 2017, the new DUI would be counted as a 2nd offense. It would not matter that the 2012 DUI conviction had been expunged. An expunged conviction can be used as a sentence enhancement in any future criminal cases the person may have. An expunged conviction will still appear on a person's rap sheet (history of criminal convictions). Also, it will not reinstate a person's right to possess firearms (if this was taken away, such as the case with a domestic violence conviction) or remove the requirement of a person who has been ordered to register as a sex offender. The order also does not relieve the person of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission. Also, if you were convicted and denied probation, meaning that you received a state prison sentence, you cannot seek relief under Section 1203.4.
START THE EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS TODAY
If you have previously been convicted of DUI you should consider filing a Petition for Dismissal aka an "expungement" request. Even if you are still on probation for a DUI conviction, you may qualify to have probation terminated early and to file a 1203.4 dismissal request. Although it is not a complete erasure of the conviction record, it provides some relief and may be beneficial to you either now or in the future. CONTACT our office today for a free and confidential consultation. DUI Lawyer Robert D. Berglund will explain the process to you and advise you as to whether you are eligible to have your DUI conviction expunged.