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Why You Can't Expunge a Washington DUI

By Edited Oct 25, 2015 0 0

Before I get too far, let me talk about why the title of this article is so specific. The article title refers specifically to expunging a Washington DUI. And this is done on purpose. I know a little bit about expunging criminal convictions in Washington State. I'm a Washington expungement lawyer. What I don't know a lot about is doing that in other states. The rules are all different. That's why I'm only talking about Washington.

The next thing that needs to be discussed is expungement. Though that's how most people refer to it, in reality, what happens is called vacation and sealing. Expungement is the process of deleting your criminal records. That means if you were convicted of something in the past and a judge grants your motion for expungement, the record is literally deleted. It no longer exists. Courts don't do this very often any more, and you can probably imagine why.

Instead they vacate records and seal them. Vacation is a lot like expungement, except they don't literally delete the records. They simply wipe them off electronic databases and allow you to tell people you have not been convicted of a crime. The physical file still exists, and if someone gets the court to allow them to look at it they'll be able to see what happened. Otherwise for all intents and purposes it is gone.

But, in Washington, no matter how good your Washington expungement lawyer is, you can't get a DUI conviction wiped off your record. There are probably a few reasons for this. I can think of a couple, namely most prosecutors and judges are concerned with previous DUI conviction if you ever get another one, no matter how far in your past it occurred. But, the truth of the matter is, at the end of the day, the legislature decided you couldn't do it. Period. They just made it impossible to do.

I wanted you to know this for a couple of reasons. First, the more information you have the better. Second, I didn't want you to get swindled out of your money by paying someone claiming to be a Washington DUI expungement lawyer, because they just don't exist (though if you get the charge reduced, it's possible to get it vacated, though it is extremely hard).

In the end, if you think you want to pursue getting a DUI conviction expunged or vacated in Washington State, think twice. It's not possible. It's not allowed by law. If some attorney tells you he'll take your money and look into it, and you've read this article, you are making a bad decision. I hope one mistake like a DUI doesn't hold you back forever, and it probably shouldn't stay on your record forever. But it's going to take a chance to the law before anything can happen.

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