Dealing with DUI

DUI Conviction

DUI Conviction
A conviction on a charge of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) has two components. There is an administrative portion, which is dealt with under civil law, and a criminal component. Both of them can have consequences long after a fine is paid and any jail time has been served.

Administrative Component of DUI Conviction
When a driver's license is revoked when the individual fails a breath test, this is an administrative matter that is separate from any criminal charges. The driver may be required to attend an administrative hearing within 5-10 days of the traffic stop so that a decision about whether to suspend driving privileges can be made. An individual may be found not guilty on the criminal charge of DUI, but still have his or her license suspended or revoked for refusing to provide a breath sample or failing the roadside sobriety test.

Criminal Charges
A DUI may be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony offense. The more serious classification is usually reserved for situations where a serious injury or death has occurred. A conviction or a plea of "No Contest" means that the individual will have a criminal record.

Permanent Record
A fine or jail sentence is only the beginning of the issue associated with having a DUI conviction. The information becomes part of the individual's permanent record and can be accessed by law enforcement personnel, as well as the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Prospective employers, car insurance companies, and landlords can access this information when performing a background check.

Consequences of a Criminal Record
The consequences of having a criminal record can be far-reaching. The person may have his or her voting rights restricted as a result of the criminal charges; in some states, they may be prohibited from voting altogether. Opportunities for international travel may be severely restricted as a result of the conviction as well.

Getting the Record Cleared
It is possible to have the record of a DUI conviction expunged, or cleared, but this option is not available in all states. A person who was convicted of a misdemeanor and who has completed all the terms of probation without being charged with a subsequent offense may apply for an expungement in many states. Expungement after a felony DUI conviction may be possible, and the individual should seek out expert advice to learn about his or her options.

Consult an Expert
A DUI attorney or an expungement firm can advise a person with a criminal record for DUI about his or her rights. The expert the individual selects will ask a series of questions about the offense, when the conviction occurred, and if the client complied with all the terms of his or her probation or parole. The client will also be asked for any court records in his or her possession or the case number so that the record of proceedings can be reviewed.

DUI expungement is not automatic after a certain amount of time has passed. The person convicted of the offense must apply to have his or her record erased. Going through the process means the restrictions that accompany a criminal record are lifted.