A conviction for driving under the influence creates a criminal record that can create difficulties for anyone with a DUI. Even a misdemeanor conviction shows up in background checks, which can have a negative impact on a person's ability to get hired for certain jobs, obtain certain professional licenses, gain admission to some colleges and universities, be accepted into the military, secure a financial loan, or obtain a housing lease. DUI arrests are among the most common criminal complaints, and many people with an otherwise spotless record can be plagued by this blemish for years simply because of a lack of judgement caused by youth or lowered inhibitions.
Options for Those Convicted of DUI
Fortunately, there is a way to find relief from a DUI record. Oklahoma provides two separate processes for expunging criminal records. Most frequently, a court record may be sealed following a deferred sentence. In other cases, which meet much more stringent criteria, an arrest record may be completely removed.
For many DUI cases, particularly first offenses, the defendant may receive a deferred sentence. This means that the judge postpones a judgement and sentencing pending the defendant's successful completion of probation. In this instance, a defendant would plead guilty to DUI, and the judge would outline specific terms of probation in lieu of jail. Probationary requirements may include community service, victims' impact panels, drug and alcohol treatment or counseling, drug and alcohol testing, and staying out of trouble with the law. If the defendant adheres to all terms of probation, the disposition of the case is changed. Rather than showing a guilty plea and conviction, court records are updated to indicate a plea of not guilty and a disposition of case dismissed.
Clearing Your Record
Although many people think that completion of a deferred sentence eliminates the criminal record, this is a common misconception. In fact, court records and arrest records remain unless the defendant files for expungement of the records. For DUI expungement after a deferred sentence, an attorney will file a request for expungement according to Oklahoma Statute Title 22, Subsection 991c. The defendant's name is stricken from the court docket and from public records. The court clerk retains a confidential file containing the deleted name and the case number, but this file is viewable only by court order.
After a 991c expungement, an arrest record still remains on file with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). However, there is a method of expungement that can remove even your arrest record. Under Oklahoma Statute Title 22, Subsections 18/19, certain misdemeanor and non-violent felony records may be expunged if the applicant meets certain strict criteria. In a DUI case, these criteria may include the dismissal of your case within one year of charges being filed or no other charges being filed within ten years of the DUI charge.
Your Legal Options
To determine the type of DUI expungement for which you may be eligible, or to find out about expunging any other type of criminal record, contact a lawyer who has successfully helped other Oklahomans get a clear record.