You drove after having drinks, and now you’ve got a DUI. You’re probably worried about what’s going to happen to you, and you might even begin to feel panicked about how this is going to affect the rest of your life. But there’s good news. If you successfully complete a term of probation, your DUI lawyer can get the case expunged from your record, meaning you have the right to say you have never been convicted. Here’s what you need to know about this second-chance option.
You Need to Have a Strong Advocate
The first thing you need to do is hire an experienced DUI attorney in Los Angeles to represent you. Some people who are arrested consider representing themselves, but truthfully, the law in this area is very complex and you want to give yourself every advantage. A lawyer knowledgeable about DUI law should know about defenses that you are unaware of. If you have a valid defense, your DUI lawyer might consider taking the case to trial. If not, he or she will negotiate the best possible plea for you. This case can affect the rest of your life, so you need someone knowledgeable by your side.
Probation is an Option
If you’ve been reading about DUI cases since you got arrested, you might be scared about the possible penalties you’ll face. But if you’re charged with your first misdemeanor DUI, your lawyer will probably be able to negotiate a plea to probation. This will usually be for three years. You will have to comply with all the terms, which will include an alcohol treatment program, fines, and a license suspension. (If this is your second or third DUI, additional terms will be required). An experienced attorney can help to keep you driving. You will have to be sure not to get rearrested while on probation. You will need to maintain a positive attitude and realize you will get through this. Then, when you’ve successfully completed probation, your lawyer can arrange to get the case expunged.
Why Expungement is Important
There are two separate records affected by a DUI—your driving record, and your criminal record. A DUI will fall off of your driving record after a ten-year period (3 years for insurance purposes). But a criminal conviction stays with you for life. Trying to get a job or rent an apartment with a criminal record is not easy. If your case is expunged, most commercial background checks such as those used by employers and landlords will not uncover your DUI conviction, and if you are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can truthfully answer “No.”
How Can I Get My Criminal Record Expunged?
After you’ve complied with all the terms of your sentence and successfully completed probation, your lawyer will make a motion to the judge to have the case expunged. The district attorney may or may not object, but your lawyer will be your staunchest supporter. In most cases, the motion for expungement will be granted.
Expungement is a way to move on from the mistake you made by having your case dismissed. But the first step is hiring a skilled and seasoned Los Angeles DUI attorney. Your lawyer will discuss all the facts of your case, explain the law, and go over possible defenses. It’s important to be completely truthful, so you can get the best advice. If your case can’t be won at trial, your lawyer will negotiate the best possible plea and if you’re eligible, help you to get your case expunged so you can put your mistake behind you.