How long is my DUI going to haunt me?

California DUI laws are among the strictest in the United States. Unfortunately, a lot of people find long after they have paid their fines, served jail time and are off probation, that their previous DUI conviction continues to cause problems for them. While the stigma associated with a DUI arrest is one issue, a conviction may also result in the inability to secure employment or find a suitable residence. Fortunately, it is possible to have a California DUI expunged under specific circumstances.

Knowing the rules

Misdemeanor DUI charges are not especially difficult to have expunged from a record. However, in most cases it is strongly recommended that a DUI attorney represent the defendant. Unlike most criminal offenses, expungement of DUI charges are discretionary. The request may be granted or denied by the judge. Therefore, a DUI lawyer will drastically improve your chances of having your petition for expungement (dismissal) granted.

One of the primary reason for having a DUI expunged is for employment reasons. Before an application for expungement can even be considered, the defendant must have met the following conditions:

  1. All court orders are followed
  2. Defendant has completed any required jail time
  3. Any fines/restitution have been paid in a timely manner
  4. Defendant is no longer on probation


Once the process of having a record expunged has been granted and the case has been dismissed, a defendant may legally state that he or she has had no criminal convictions on job applications. The exceptions to this rule include applying for or bidding for government contracts, or applying for a government position (ie law enforcement). Even if your record has been expunged it may be a good idea to discuss with your lawyer how you should answer these questions on employment applications.

If you are convicted for a new California DUI charge, the prior case which was expunged will continue to be used against you.