Do you need a lawyer for an Arizona DUI expungement? Can you get a DUI expunged in Arizona without a lawyer?
In the United States, driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime. If you have a DUI conviction, it will show up on your criminal record.
Having a criminal record can be a problem. It can impact your ability to get a job, an apartment, or certain certificates and licenses.
When you “expunge” your record of a DUI, you can eliminate some of these negative effects.
In this post, Phoenix attorney Belen Olmedo Guerra will discuss the ins and outs of DUI expungement in Arizona.
What is a DUI Expungement in Arizona?
The process for DUI expungement is different for every state. In Arizona, we call the process “setting aside” a conviction rather than expunging a conviction.
But no matter the state, after you achieve an expungement, you can truthfully report that your record is clean. After a DUI expungement, for all intents and purposes, you no longer have a DUI. There are some exceptions we’ll talk about further down.
What Are the Two Types of DUI Records in Arizona?
Before we get into expunging your Arizona DUI, there are a few things you need to know. The first thing you need to know is that when you get a DUI in Arizona, the conviction results in two records.
These records are distinct and separate from each other. Each of them has different repercussions and consequences.
The Motor Vehicle Department
The first record is with the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD).
Insurance companies use this record to determine rates for your insurance. The MVD also keeps track of DUI convictions and other infractions with a points system. Too many points may result in the loss of your license.
A DUI conviction will garner 8 points on your record. This will remain on your record at the MVD for five years and then will automatically drop off.
Criminal Justice Record
This is what you’ll normally think of as a criminal record. They hold and report this in multiple places, including the court system and the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The DPS shares information with the FBI.
This record is available to the public. It’s also there for life. This is the record that has such negative consequences for your future: the record that will affect your ability to get a job, or an apartment, or a scholarship. Not to mention the damage your reputation will take when anyone with a smartphone can pull this record up.
Can I get an expungement in Arizona? That’s more difficult than a simple yes or no answer.
You cannot get a DUI expungement for the record at the MVD. But the only negative effects this record will have is on your insurance premiums, and on your driver’s license if you incur other infractions. As we mentioned earlier, this will disappear from your MVD record after five years.
It is possible to obtain a DUI expungement at the court. This will expunge the record with the Arizona DPS and the FBI. Arizona calls this process “setting aside”, according to ARS 13-907.
Under ARS 13-907, when you complete your sentence, you can ask the court to set aside your conviction. This releases the person from all the negative consequences of the conviction.
What Factors Do Arizona Courts Consider During A Set-Aside?
When you request a set-aside in Arizona, there are a few things an Arizona court will look at. Some of the things the court will look at while deciding whether to issue a set-aside are:
- The severity of the DUI offense
- The defendant’s behavior since the criminal conviction
- Whether the applicant upheld the terms of the sentence the court issued
- The duration of time since the conviction
A court will only set aside your conviction after considering all these relevant factors. If the court grants you a set-aside, it will consider your application granted.
It is important to note that those seeking to set aside their convictions will need to pay multiple fees and fines. They will also need to be sure they meet all obligations the court sets before them.
Will my DUI Conviction Still Appear On Background Checks?
Once an Arizona court sets aside your DUI conviction, it will not appear on background checks. The court has dismissed the case.
Background checks do not turn up dismissed cases due to state and federal regulations.
Limitations of Arizona DUI Expungement
All forms of expungement have limitations. There is no way to completely erase your conviction, and an expungement doesn’t free you from all consequences of the conviction.
We already mentioned the fact that only the Arizona court can set aside your conviction. The MVD will not set aside your DUI.
There are a few other limitations to DUI expungement. Some of these limitations are:
Subsequent DUI Convictions
The penalties for a DUI relate to how many DUI prior convictions you have. In other words, the penalties for a first-time offense aren’t as serious as second or third offenses.
Even if you expunge one DUI conviction, if you get another, that expunged conviction still counts as a prior. So even if an Arizona court has set aside two of your DUI convictions, if you get another DUI, it counts as a third offense.
Government Jobs, Professionals, and Sensitive Occupations
Certain employers can access expunged records.
For example, if you apply for a job with the state or federal government, they can see your prior convictions. Even if a court has set aside or expunged the conviction, government employers will have access.
This is also true for jobs where you will be working with children. Professional licensing boards for legal and medical professions will also have access to expunged records.
Contact the Belen Law Firm for DUI Expungement
Getting a conviction set aside isn’t always easy. The process can be potentially confusing. It is always best to have experienced legal counsel while you are seeking a set-aside.
If you or someone you know is filing to have a conviction set aside in Arizona, call the Belen Law Firm at 602-715-0908. You can also leave us a message on our website.