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Can a DUI Record be Expunged?

Updated on June 17, 2021 → Under

Drunk driving is a serious criminal offense, and having a DUI on your driving record can mean anything from higher insurance premiums to losing your driving privileges or restricting which types of jobs you can apply for, including being a commercial driver or an Uber/Lyft driver. Expunging a DUI conviction from your criminal record is possible, but it depends on many factors, and can take a long time.

If you’re trying to clear your public criminal record of a DUI but still struggle with alcohol, it’s time to seek professional help. In Illinois, a single driving under the influence arrest can seriously jeopardize your freedom, your job, and your reputation. Thus, if you’ve been arrested for intoxicated driving, you can’t afford to delay your defense. The criminal penalties are harsh, and so you need a DUI criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our Rolling Meadows criminal defense law firm today at (847) 616-9993, or chat with us online to learn how we can help.

What is a DUI Expungement?

A DUI criminal charge can leave a long-lasting stain on your criminal record, but there are many ways to remove a DUI criminal conviction from your record. The process of removing a DUI from your permanent record is called “expunging.” While an expungement can clear up your criminal record, the DUI conviction will still show up on your driving record. However, having one DUI conviction on your driving record won’t last forever, and Driver’s license-related consequences don’t last for a finite period of time. After a first-time DUI criminal offense, you’re subject to one month of license suspension, and six months of restricted driving).

After a driving under the influence conviction, you’ll also need to file an SR-22 with your auto insurance company, which may increase your insurance rates. Depending on state laws, this will eventually be removed after some time. However, not every state allows for DUI expungement, and other states have restrictions on how to do so.

Can a DUI Record be Expunged?

In Illinois, for example, DUI convictions can’t be removed from your record, although many other offenses can be expunged from your record. Other states have a more nuanced approach, agreeing whether to expunge a DUI based on the criminal sentence handed down at the DUI conviction, rather than doing so depending on the nature of the DUI offense itself. This entails granting the expungement if you only received and completed a deferred sentence and completed the period of probation.

However, violating the terms of your criminal sentence, for instance, by getting into trouble again or by not paying fines and court costs will almost certainly cause a judge to refuse to expunge a DUI conviction from your public criminal record.

How Can a DUI Record be Expunged in Illinois?

If you’re like many people with a previous DUI conviction, you want to know if it’ll stay on your public criminal record forever.

Under Illinois law, you can’t expunge or seal a DUI from your public criminal record. The only way to get DUI-related criminal offenses removed from your record is if:

  • You were arrested but never charged with the DUI offense; 
  • You were found not guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Your DUI case was dismissed; and
  • You applied for and were granted a pardon from the governor of Illinois.

If you meet any of the conditions mentioned above; you can clear DUI-related incidents, including a DUI arrest from your criminal record.

Again, though, only some people are eligible for criminal record expungement – if you were convicted of a drunk driving criminal offense, you can’t expunge it from your driving record.

Further, DUI offenders who aren’t eligible for criminal record expungement may qualify for DUI conviction sealing. However, again, not everyone is eligible to seal a DUI criminal conviction in Illinois – and if you were convicted of DUI, you can’t seal it.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Illinois?

The state of Illinois takes drunk driving criminal charges seriously and has a zero tolerance policy for drunken driving convictions. Thus, if you’re convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that DUI conviction will remain on your record for life.

The Criminal Identification Act allows you to seal a criminal record. This means your criminal record will still exist, but access to it is restricted by a required court order. So, the public has no access to your criminal, and can only access it through a court order from a judge. Thus, in a felony situation where you can’t expunge a drunk driving conviction, you can look at sealing your record as an alternative. However, again, Illinois law doesn’t allow for a DUI conviction to be sealed.

What Crimes Can be Expunged in Illinois?

Most misdemeanor and felony DUI convictions qualify for sealing or expungement. However, some, including drunk driving offenses, animal care crimes, domestic battery, and most sex offenses, don’t qualify for sealing. And if your conviction required you to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act, the Arsonist Registration Act, or the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act, you can’t seal your criminal record until you’re removed from the registry.

Although some incidents are ineligible for expungement or sealing, you can still seal or expunge those arrests and convictions that are eligible. The offenses that are ineligible for sealing or expungement will stay on your record. The following charges can't be expunged in Illinois:

  • Arrests and charges for felony charges and misdemeanor offenses that didn’t result in a conviction can be sealed at any time;
  • Minor traffic offenses, especially if you weren’t charged;
  • Felony traffic offenses that were reduced to an eligible misdemeanor offense;
  • Convictions for most felonies and misdemeanors can be sealed three years after completion of the criminal sentence.
  • A misdemeanor conviction of Public Indecency;
  • Reckless Driving. Unless you were under 25 at the time of the offense and you have no other convictions for reckless driving or drunk driving.
Contact our attorneys to discuss expunging your DUI.

If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, our experienced Chicago DUI criminal defense attorneys can help you keep a clean driving record. Contact our Chicago law office today at (847) 616-9993, for a free case review. 

How Long Until My Record is Expunged?

The same way that different states have their own laws regarding DUI expungement, the time allowed between your DUI conviction and your petition to expunge your criminal record varies from state to state. You have to wait at least a year from the date of your DUI conviction for the criminal courts to consider a request to wipe your record clean. However, the waiting period can depend on the severity of the DUI offense and your probation period. An experienced DUI criminal defense attorney can advise you on the most optimum time to file an expungement petition.

After filing a petition, an expungement petition for a DUI can take up to six weeks to be processed. Felony drunken driving offenses take longer, while misdemeanor DUI offenses can be processed within two weeks. After the court approves for a DUI to be expunged from your criminal record, you’ll have to wait for the expungement to take effect. The court has to update its documentation. And only then will the relevant drunk driving records reflect the expungement. Typically, it takes around 48 hours for the court to update its DUI records. However, if any federal agency, such as the FBI, has information related to your drunk driving offense, then it can take months for your expungement to take effect.

If an expungement petition is granted, then the DUI conviction is removed from your arrest record, as though the drunk driving conviction never happened. A potential employer or landlord running a basic background check won’t find any trace of the DUI conviction. And depending on the gravity of the original DUI offense and the state where you live, your DUI conviction may never again show up on your public criminal record.

At Dohman Law Group, our skilled Chicago Expungement Lawyers have a track record of successfully helping DUI offenders with the expungement process in Rolling Meadows, Waukegan, Elgin, Lombard, Aurora, and throughout Illinois. We charge affordable rates and a flat fee structure, so you know ahead of time the total legal cost you’ll need to pay. For a free initial consultation with an experienced drunk driving lawyer, contact us today at (847) 616-9993. Our drunk driving lawyers have vast experience helping clients across Illinois get DUI convictions sealed or expunged from their records, and we can help you too.

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