DUI expungement is the removal a DUI conviction from one's public record. This is not to say that the DUI is “gone” or has disappeared entirely: it is still available to law enforcement and in any criminal justice proceeding. To prevent citizens from confusing expungement with ‘erasure,' Georgia has referred to expungement as record restriction since July 2013.
A DUI conviction can deeply affect one's life. From the initial embarrassment of explaining to friends and family of a suspended license, to answering to employer questioning about the offense after a background check, the effects of a convicted DUI can be far reaching. It may also make it more difficult to apply to schools, obtain scholarships, renew professional licenses and as mentioned, secure gainful employment. In addition to all this, car insurance rates skyrocket after a DUI.
Sadly, Georgia law does not allow for the expungement of DUI convictions. A dismissed DUI charge can be wiped clean from one's record, but this is not the case if the offense has been successfully convicted. A skilled Georgia DUI attorney can discuss the specifics of your case with you.
Any offense for which you plead guilty or are found guilty by a judge or jury cannot be expunged. Simply put, a Georgia DUI conviction is forever. Nothing can be done. This is why it is imperative that if you have been charged with DUI, this is your window of opportunity to secure a talented DUI attorney who will fight your charges aggressively and competently. The caliber of attorney you select can have a substantial bearing on the outcome of your case. To avoid dealing the consequences of a permanent conviction, contact a DUI attorney as soon as you are charged, so that they may begin building your defense.
It is also important to understand that these convictions are not wiped with time or at the X year mark. Some people believe that the ‘lookback' policies of DUIs within a 5 year or 10-year span relate to expungement procedures. They don't. A DUI conviction from over 10 years ago can still be counted as a prior offense and will be used by a prosecutor to show a pattern of misconduct. A DUI conviction does not expire, and the purpose of looking back on a person's record is to enhance their punishment should they charged with DUI again. It does not mean the DUI goes off their record at a 5 or 10-year mark.
Because of the stringency of this policy, lawmakers have considered changing it. In January 2012, Rep. Culver Kidd proposed HB799 which would've allowed the expungement of DUI convictions if the offender did not receive any more traffic violations for 5 years. Rep. Kidd noted the devastating effects a DUI conviction can have one's academic and professional life, however, the bill did not pass.
DUI convictions cannot be pardoned, generally speaking. The governor of Georgia does not have the power to pardon, as many other governors do. This power rests exclusively with the Georgia Pardon and Parole Board. Only felony convictions are considered by the board. Although some DUI offenses are felonies, misdemeanor DUI offenses are not eligible.
If your case is dismissed for lack of evidence or with the completion of a diversion program, the issue is not automatically removed from your record. You will be able to apply for a records restriction, which will prevent private employers and other persons from viewing the arrest on your record. If you do not apply for a records restriction, your criminal record will cite the arrest alongside the word “dismissed,” but will still be visible in public records. Records restriction is a task which the accused must take on themselves if they wish to have no mention of the arrest on their record.
Pleading guilty may seem to be the easiest way of resolving a DUI charge, however, the consequences can be life changing and completely permanent because of the expungement policy.
If you face a DUI charge or a probation violation in Georgia, you will need an exceptional legal representative to scrutinize your charges and fight for you in court. Contact Hall County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today for a free consultation.