Can I Get My Record Expunged After a DWI Conviction?

When you are facing DUI or DWI charges in Rochester, you should know up front that a conviction will result in you having a criminal record. To be sure, under New York law, even a first offense for driving while intoxicated can result in a misdemeanor conviction that can lead to a prison sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, and a revoked driver’s license for at least six months. If you are arrested for a first-time DWI offense and you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .18 percent or higher, you will be facing aggravated DWI charges, and a first offense can result in a fine of up to $2,500, a jail term of up to one year, and a driver’s license revocation for at least one year. The penalties for subsequent offenses are much higher, and second and subsequent offenses can result in a felony conviction.

Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony DWI charges, the most important thing is to do everything you can to beat the charges you are facing with assistance from an experienced Rochester DWI defense attorney. In the event you are convicted, or if you are applying for a job for which you have concerns about your DWI criminal record, you may be wondering about your options to have your record expunged or sealed. Generally speaking, it is difficult to remove a DWI conviction from your record, but until recently, it was nearly impossible. We want to tell you more about the aftermath of DWI convictions in New York, and your options for sealing or expunging a DWI conviction.

New York Used to Prohibit Expungement or Sealing of DWI Convictions

Until relatively recently, anyone who was convicted of a misdemeanor or felony DWI offense would find it impossible to seal or expunge their criminal record. Many people with criminal records from DWI convictions have concerns about applying for certain types of employment (especially jobs that require driving as part of the job duties), or even applying for certain forms of credit with a criminal record. DWI convictions used to be among the types of criminal convictions that could only be sealed or expunged if the DWI charges were dismissed, or if the person charged with the DWI offense was otherwise able to beat the charges.

Is there a difference between the sealing and expungement of criminal records? Yes, although New York law does not generally permit the expungement of criminal convictions. In general, the term “expungement” refers to completely erasing a criminal conviction from a criminal record. Some states permit people to seek an expungement of a criminal conviction after a certain amount of time has passed, or under other circumstances. Expungement is akin to destroying a criminal record altogether. To have a DWI conviction record expunged (or removed, or deleted) in New York, state law typically requires a person to show that a criminal conviction was vacated or that the conviction was otherwise reversed. Sealing a criminal record is different. In sealing, the criminal conviction is no longer visible to the public and to certain other parties, but the record still exists. 

Some DWI Convictions Can Be Sealed

Beginning in 2017, New York law (CPL 160.59) allowed people to seal certain DWI convictions. In order to be eligible to have a DWI conviction sealed, 10 years must have passed from the date of the conviction. The 10-year rule is firm. To be clear, you will not be able to have a DWI record sealed until 10 years have passed since the conviction. Once 10 years have passed, you can file a Sealing Application to ask the court to seal your record.

In a Rochester court, you can be eligible to have up to two DWI convictions sealed, but only one of those convictions can be a felony offense. As such, if you have multiple DWI convictions on your record, you could have one misdemeanor DWI and one felony DWI conviction sealed. You must apply to the court in which you were convicted of the more serious offense (if you are seeking to have two convictions sealed), or the court in which you were convicted (if you have a single DWI conviction). 

Seek Help from a DWI Defense Attorney

Although it may be possible to have a DWI conviction sealed after 10 years, that amount of time is quite a long time to wait. If you are facing DWI charges now, it is critical to begin working with a Rochester DWI defense lawyer on your case who can assess the facts of your arrest and develop the best defense strategy for you. Contact King Law today for assistance.


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