The only way to clear a DUI from your criminal record is by petitioning the court for an expungement of the conviction. Anyone convicted of a Misdemeanor DUI, or Felony DUI where state prison wasn’t imposed and the conviction didn’t carry a strike, is eligible for an expungement pursuant to California Penal Code §1203.4. This law permits a Judge to technically withdraw your plea of guilty, enter a plea of not guilty, and “dismiss” your case. This is the only way to get a conviction off of your criminal record.
An expungement petition for a DUI, requires the petitioner to show the Judge that it is “in the interest of justice” to grant the petition. The problem is that it’s very ambiguous as to what is considered to be in the interest of justice. It leaves a lot of discretion in the Judge’s hands, to decide whether or not to grant the petition. It is important to hire an experienced DUI attorney, who knows exactly what types of things the court is looking for to grant the petition.
It is important to take immediate steps to increase the chances of getting the petition granted, and a good DUI attorney knows how to properly advise a client what additional things should be included in the petition. A simple petition just requires a filled out judicial form and blank court order, but it is usually insufficient for most Judges, if that is all you submit. You must file the petition with the court and serve the prosecutor’s office. There is also a filing fee for the petition, which varies by county.
Remember, an expungement does not clear your record in regard to priorability. This means that if you are arrested for suspicion of DUI, within 10 years from the date you were arrested for your prior DUI (not date you were convicted), even if the matter was expunged, you can be charged with a second offense DUI. Aside from that, you would still be required to explain a conviction/expungement, if applying for any California State license or governmental position.
On a good note, when applying for any private jobs, you would be legally permitted to deny ever being convicted of a Misdemeanor, once expunged. A good expungement attorney can greatly increase your chances of getting the petition granted, and can answer your questions about an expungement.