Typically, only people who have been arrested for misdemeanor DUI charges can get their records expunged. Understanding how the law works is important for getting one's record wiped clean.
What exactly is an expungement?
A DUI record is expunged when the court orders that the booking file, fingerprints, mug shots and all files related to the arrest are destroyed. The arrest simply disappears from the legal record. This is the desired outcome for anybody who has been charged with DUI. Nothing is retained by any law enforcement agency. No record keeping agency has any files on the arrest. This process can take some time, since most law enforcement and record keeping agencies work independently of each other. Although it is a rather long process to get all of the files removed, it is more than worth it. The DUI charge no longer has any bearing on future employment opportunities, credit applications or background checks. All traces of the record are removed from the legal system.
The Expungement Process
Getting one’s record expunged can actually take up to six months. The order is sent from the original prosecutor’s office to every applicable law enforcement and record keeping agency. Unfortunately, most law enforcement agencies work independently of each other. An order must be sent to each and every agency that has the arrest on file. It is not an especially speedy process, but it is effective. When the expungement order has reached every applicable agency, the records are destroyed. The DUI will no longer exist in legal terms.
Categories for Expungement of Misdemeanor DUI Arrests
There are three different circumstances to consider before proceeding with record expungement. Not all cases will be eligible for expungement. The circumstances of each case can be broken down into three different categories.
People will fall into one of three categories.
• Arrested and Convicted
• Arrested and Dismissed
• Arrested and Found Not Guilty
Arrested and Convicted
If somebody is arrested and convicted of DUI in South Carolina, he or she will not be able to get their records expunged. This conviction will be on file with the state forever. It will remain on the driving record for 10 years. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to this rule. Once a person has been convicted of a DUI, there is no expunging it.
Arrested and Dismissed
If a person is arrested for DUI, but then dismissed, they may be eligible for a record expungement. A formal dismissal is necessary before the records can be expunged. Once the charge is formally dismissed, an expungement order can be sent to the prosecutor’s office.
Arrested and Found Not Guilty
When a person is arrested and found not guilty, they are automatically eligible for an expungement. Everything associated with their case can be destroyed.
If a person is eligible for an expungement, an order for the destruction of arrest records must be filed. An experienced attorney is a great asset during this complicated process. Although it doesn’t take back the actual arrest and the time and money spent fighting the DUI charge, an expungement goes a long way to restoring a good reputation. Getting one’s DUI arrest record expunged can take up to six months. It is a worthwhile endeavor for people who plan on applying for jobs or credit for the rest of their lives.