Moving On From A DWI: Expungement Basics

Getting arrested for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense is undoubtedly one of the most traumatic experiences you can undergo as a motorist. It does not matter if you were driving alone and no one was injured, the DWI on your driving record can have negative effects in many areas of your life. However, do not despair if you are contending with the consequences of a DWI arrest. With patience and the help of a good  DWI attorney, you can apply to get a DWI expunged, or you can take steps to lessen the effects of the charge on your life.

What Happens When Your DWI Gets Expunged

When you get a DWI, points that represent the severity of the charge appear on your driving record. The more points that are on your driving record, the more car insurance you will pay.

Your driving privileges could also be affected. For example, some states will suspend your license when you reach a certain number of points. When you get a DWI expunged, those points will be removed from your driving record.

If your driving record was stellar before the DWI and you have not had any violations since the offense, it may be worth the time, effort and expense to seek expungement. If you are successful, your driving record will be clean again and you can seek lower insurance rates. In addition, you will not have to worry about having to answer awkward questions doing job interviews about the DWI when it shows ups on employment background checks.

Expungement Requirements

Many states will enable you to expunge your arrest record if you meet several requirements a few years after the DWI incident. You may have to write a letter to your state's division of motor vehicles that includes your personal details and the reasons why you are eligible for expungement.

The additional specific criteria vary from state to state and may include complex requirements, so be sure to hire a lawyer with experience in expunging DWIs in your locale. Some jurisdictions will seal a DWI conviction instead of expunging the record completely.

Some states, like Oklahoma, strongly suggest that you hire a lawyer to handle your expungement request due to the amount of paperwork and legal requirements involved in the process. Filing for an expungement may require that you attend court proceedings and present your request to a judge. You do not want to go into court unprepared and without the expertise of an attorney.

Additionally, be aware that some states have filing fees for expungement or record sealing requests.

What If You Do Not Meet Expungement Requirements?

Some states will not enable you to apply for expungement of a DWI, even after several years have passed since your arrest or conviction. If you are afraid that a DWI will keep you from obtaining a job or hurt your chances of advancing in your career, take heed of the following strategies.

Be proactive and honest in interviews. Let interviewers know upfront about your DWI so it does not come as a surprise later on during a background check. Explain the circumstances of the arrest and the things that you have done since to overcome any issues with alcohol addiction or poor driving.

Provide interviewers with proof of your dedication to safe driving and, if applicable, overcoming addiction. You can bring copies of your driving record to show that you have not received any negative points on your record since the DWI and that you are indeed a safe driver.

Prove your dedication to helping to lower DWI convictions and helping others by volunteering with non-profits that help educate the public on drunk driving. You can work with these organizations to give speeches to youth groups about the issue as well. When you talk about your volunteer work with interviewers, you are sure to give a good impression.