Napa DUI Expungement Attorney and Records Lawyer

When you are convicted of a DUI, the results can linger for years. This is because, unfortunately, a DUI comes with a wide range of consequences that can impact your life long-term. However, depending on the circumstances and your qualifications, you may be eligible to have a DUI conviction expunged in California. If you are considering applying for expungement, finding a Napa DUI expungement attorney is crucial.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in all 50 states. If you are convicted of a DUI, you may lose your right to drive in addition to facing issues applying for jobs or schooling.

Napa DUI Expungement Attorney

Understanding California DUI Laws

In California, a driver can be charged with a DUI if they are driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or some other controlled substance. In regards to alcohol, a driver cannot be found with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that surpasses 0.08%. If the driver is operating a commercial vehicle, they cannot have a BAC over 0.04%. It’s important to note that even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you may still be arrested for a DUI if you’re clearly impaired.

California has a no-tolerance policy for individuals who drunk driving under the age of 21. The legal limit for anyone underage is 0.01%, meaning they can have no traceable alcohol in their system while driving.

California also has an implied consent law. Under this law, a driver automatically consents to a breathalyzer test if they are behind the wheel of a car and pulled over for suspicion of a DUI. This means if a driver refuses a breath test, their California license will automatically be suspended for at least one year. This suspension will be upheld regardless of the outcome of their hearing. They could also be assigned fines and jail time, depending on the severity of the DUI.

The Varying Penalties of a California DUI

California takes driving under the influence seriously, and the state’s penalties clearly reflect that. Not only does a DUI stay on your record for ten years, but there is also no way to have this removed before the ten years is over.

You should note that your timed period starts the day of your arrest, not the day of your conviction. Most people convicted of a DUI in California can expect to face:

  • Jail Time or Probation: First-time offenders will likely receive probation instead of jail time. Probation is typically about three years for individuals facing their first DUI. For additional DUI offenses, the driver is likely to experience some sort of jail sentence, potential fines, and rehabilitation classes.
  • Fines: Fines can start around $390 and reach thousands of dollars. With every DUI an individual is convicted of, the more their fines will increase.
  • License Revocation/Suspension: The minimum license suspension for a DUI is six months. However, a driver’s license is in jeopardy of being permanently revoked if they have multiple DUI convictions.
  • Installation of Ignition Interlock Device (IID): When an individual is convicted of multiple DUIs, they will have to install an IID in their vehicle. An IID hooks up to a vehicle’s ignition and only allows a driver to start the car if they pass their breathalyzer test.

While many DUIs are classified as misdemeanors, they can quickly become felonies if there are aggravating factors present. Aggravating factors can include having three or more DUIs in the last ten years, causing serious bodily injury to someone, or causing the death of another person.

What Is Expungement in California?

When you have a conviction expunged from your DUI criminal record, this means you have had it removed. Having a conviction expunged can help to remove a variety of the negative effects that come with a DUI charge in California. It’s important to note, though, that only certain individuals are eligible for expungement, and not all cases qualify. In order to apply for expungement, you need to submit a formal petition to your local court.

To petition for expungement, you will first have to serve the sentence given to you by the court after your conviction. This means you must complete the probation or jail time assigned to you. Once completed, you may be eligible for expungement. With the help of an attorney, you can find out whether you’re eligible and begin the process of petitioning.

If you are granted an expungement, it is separated from your public profile. Expungement makes it so that your previous guilty plea would be withdrawn, and the case would be dismissed as if the crime never happened. Expungement is incredibly helpful for individuals who have been suffering from the long-term effects of an old DUI conviction.

How to Petition for DUI Expungement in California

Once the terms of your conviction are fulfilled, you can petition the court to have your DUI expunged. To do so, you will have to fill out and submit the necessary paperwork. You will also have to let the prosecuting agency know that you are petitioning. This is because the prosecutor will have to investigate your claim and ensure that you’ve met all the terms of your sentencing.

If you’re looking to petition for expungement in Napa, retaining a skilled attorney is vital. This is because the expungement process requires a wide range of information and evidence as well as a strong understanding of the law. When you work with a DUI lawyer, you can trust that they’ll guide you through the expungement process by helping you file paperwork and representing your rights in court whenever needed.

Am I Eligible to Have My California DUI Expunged?

Because California still wants to ensure that people are penalized for DUIs, only certain individuals are eligible to have previous DUI convictions expunged. The following factors will impact whether or not you’re eligible to have your DUI expunged:

  • Whether you paid all necessary fines and fees.
  • Whether you completed mandated educational programs.
  • Whether you completed your community service.
  • You have no other criminal charges on your record.
  • You were not sentenced to a state prison (if you were, contact a criminal defense lawyer to see if you are still eligible).

What Does Expungement Do in California?

Expungement removes a DUI from public record. When potential employers and landlords run a background check on you, it will not show up. Therefore, an expungement can help with:

  • Housing: Having a DUI on your record can be a red flag to some renters and lenders. Some may choose not to rent to you or to deny a loan for housing with a DUI on your record. If you have it expunged, it will not show up on the background check they perform, thus improving your chances for approval.
  • Employment: Many jobs today perform background checks on potential employees. If you have a DUI on your record and are asked about your criminal history, you must disclose it. Failing to do so can result in consequences such as termination or denial of hire. This can also hinder you from getting a promotion. If you have the DUI expunged, you will not have to disclose this information.

What Does an Expungement Not Provide?

While having a conviction expunged removes it from public record, it does not erase it completely. The following details are important to note if you recently had a DUI charge expunged:

  • Your charge can still be seen with certain types of background checks, such as ones used for state licensing, government jobs, and teaching credentials. You are still obligated to disclose a DUI to these types of institutions, even if the DUI has been expunged.
  • An expunged DUI will also show up for court officials and law enforcement when checking your background. A DUI will also remain on your DMV record. This cannot be removed. As a part of this, an expungement will not cause you to get your license back before the allotted time of its suspension.
  • There are rare, extenuating circumstances where a license may be permanently revoked or suspended longer than the probationary period. An expungement will not be able to reinstate the license if this is the case.
  • An expunged DUI is not removed from any insurance company databases. It will not change your insurance rates. Therefore, whatever price the car insurance company charges you will remain the same at their discretion even if the DUI gets expunged.

How Long Does an Expungement Take in California?

Expungements typically take three to four months to finalize. However, every case is different, and finalization can be delayed for a myriad of reasons. It’s important to note that expungements do not rank high on the priority list in court systems. This is mostly because expungements do not have a deadline or time limit, unlike many other petitions and claims.

Most other situations involving the court have a time limit, so if there are many other pressing issues a court has to deal with, it’s possible that your expungement can be delayed in being finalized. Contacting a lawyer can help you get a better gauge of when you can expect to have your DUI officially expunged from your record.

Expunging Vs. Sealing a Conviction

Expunging a DUI is not the same as sealing a DUI. When a DUI is sealed, the record is still there with all its information and supporting documents, but it is “sealed” to the public. This means they cannot access it. With expungement, the DUI is completely erased from your record as if it never happened. Legally, you are allowed to withhold that the DUI ever occurred if you have it expunged.

Generally, only law enforcement will still have access to an expunged record. This is so they can keep track of any repeat offenders. If someone has another DUI within ten years, the police can look up their criminal history, including expunged records, to see if they have had a DUI in the past.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Expunge a DUI in California?

Legally, you are allowed to take the steps to request expungement on your own without a lawyer’s help in Napa, California. However, it is highly recommended that you hire a records lawyer to assist you. It is easy to make a mistake during the process, and if your request is denied, you will have to file again. Being denied the first time increases your chances of being denied the second time, which is why it’s smart to have help the first time you do it.

California laws are getting stricter when it comes to expungements. The court must decide if granting you an expungement is “in the interest of justice.” The standard has increased, and judges want to make sure they are working in the greater interest of the law and the public. The court can deny your request for expungement if they see fit, and a prosecutor can petition the court to deny your request.

Because of this, it is crucial to have an experienced lawyer by your side. An experienced attorney can fight for you in court, fill out all your paperwork properly, and file it with the appropriate parties.

The Law Office of Conor Bell: Napa’s Expungement Team

If you have a DUI on your record and are looking to get it expunged, the Law Office of Conor Bell can help. Our team shares comprehensive knowledge of California’s DUI and expungement laws and can help you better understand the process. We can help you determine your eligibility, fill out the necessary forms, and file your petition.

In California, it is not enough to simply qualify for expungement. You must also show that granting you an expungement is in the interest of justice. Our team can fight for you in court, expressing why your record should be expunged and representing your rights throughout every proceeding.

Contact the Law Office of Conor Bell to schedule a consultation with one of our team members today. We are prepared to leverage our resources and knowledge to help you get the expungement you deserve.