DUI expungement is the removal of a DUI from a person's record. Although it is a viable option in many states, complete DUI expungement is not available in the state of Georgia. If you have a DUI conviction on your record and we're looking into the possibility of expungement, you should be aware that a convicted DUI cannot be expunged and there is nothing you or even the most aggressive or experienced DUI attorney can do. However, you may be able to apply for a records restriction. A records restriction does not destroy the information pertaining to your DUI, rather it greatly limits who has access to it. If you successfully obtain a records restriction, only law enforcement and those at criminal justice proceedings would have access to your unrestricted record.
Many people who have been convicted of driving under the influence know how profoundly this conviction can affect a person's life. Not only is there financial strain associated with fighting the charge, but there is equal if not worse strain after the conviction. Car insurance rates skyrocket. You may have more difficulty securing a job because the conviction skews a potential employer's view of you. It may be more difficult to apply to school or renew a professional license, all of which can have a financial impact. Only a dismissed or otherwise not prosecuted DUI charge can be expunged entirely. If you are unsure whether your DUI case qualifies for expungement, contact an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney.
It is critical that people understand that a Georgia DUI conviction is forever. If you plead guilty or are found guilty by a jury or judge, the resulting conviction on your record is permanent and may never be removed. This is why anyone recently charged with DUI must take swift action and be proactive in fighting their charge because the consequences are not only far-reaching but they are lasting.
There are a number of common public misconceptions surrounding DUI expungement in Georgia and the greater United States. One prevalent misconception is how the 5 and 10-year lookback policies function and whether or not they relate to expungement. These so-called lookback policies define how far back the prosecution will look on the individual's record. If within a 5 or 10 year period there are other DUI convictions, the prosecution will issue mandatory sentencing enhancements. This does not mean there are not other sentencing enhancements for DUIs that fall outside of that range, merely that enhancements for ones within that range are mandatory. Any additional enhancement for other offenses are up to the discretion of the prosecutor. Any past DUI can be used by the judge or prosecution to establish a pattern of misconduct can which can strengthen the case against you. Offenses older than 5 or 10 years will not be necessarily overlooked, and criminal justice officials will use any evidence they deem relevant to pass judgment on the accused.
The 10-Year Rule in Georgia Explained:
The state of Georgia requires anyone convicted of a second DUI within a 10-year span to be sentenced to a minimum 72 hours in jail and a fine between $600 to $1,000 (plus court surcharges). They must also complete 240 hours community service, DUI School, 12 months of probation, a clinical evaluation, and any recommended substance abuse treatment.
The 5-Year Rule in Georgia Explained:
A second DUI conviction in 5 years carries more severe penalties. Along with the penalties listed above, anyone convicted is required to pay a $25.00 fee to publish your photograph and notice of your conviction in the county newspaper. They are also required to surrender license plates to every vehicle registered in their name. Their driver's license will be suspended for a minimum 18 months.
They will be ineligible for a limited driving permit for the first four months following conviction. They will also be required to install an IID (ignition interlock device) in their vehicle when they become eligible for a limited driving permit.
None of these provisions relate to expungement procedures. They do not mean in any way that a DUI is erased/expunged at the five or ten-year mark.
Could Georgia's DUI expungement policy change?
In January 2012, Georgia Representative Culver Kidd proposed a change in the law toward Georgia's DUI expungement policy. Noting the myriad lifelong effects that a DUI carries for those convicted, Kidd proposed HB799 which would've permitted DUI offenders to completely expunge the conviction after 5 years so long as they received no traffic infraction of any kind during those five years. The law was founded on the notion that those convicted deserved a second chance. It did not pass.
If you have been charged with DUI or you wish to look into the possibility of records restriction, you must consult an experienced Georgia DUI attorney as soon as possible to review your case. If not properly handled, this conviction or charge could hang over you forever. Expert legal representation is key in obtaining the best possible outcome in your DUI case.
Richard Lawson is the top-rated and most reviewed Atlanta DUI Lawyer. He is a former Georgia DUI Prosecutor with more than 20 years experience defending people accused of DUI throughout Atlanta, Metro-Atlanta, and North Georgia. Do not hesitate to contact him for a free consultation. His reviews can be found on Avvo.