A DUI conviction may never be erased from your permanent criminal record. Florida DUI penalties provide that anyone convicted of DUI receive a mandatory adjudication of guilt. In Florida, once you have been adjudicated guilty (formal conviction of a crime) you are ineligible to seal or expunge your record.
However, depending on the outcome of your case, there may be a way for your record to be cleared so that you can go on living as normal a life as possible without this dark cloud hanging over you. In order to be eligible to seal your DUI arrest you have to ensure that you are not convicted of DUI and the only way to do that is to have the DUI charges dropped, dismissed or reduced. In addition, if your DUI charges are reduced to reckless driving, for instance, you would need to receive a withhold of adjudication in order to be eligible to petition the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to seal your record.
Depending on your prior criminal history (no prior convictions), you may be eligible to seal or expunge your DUI from your record, eliminate it from public view and oftentimes deny it ever happened.
However, if you were found guilty after a trial, plead guilty or no contest to DUI you will likely be ineligible to seal or expunge your record as Florida law calls for mandatory adjudication, meaning you MUST be convicted, on a DUI charge.
Difference between record sealing and expungement in Florida
If your DUI charges were either dropped by the State or dismissed by the Judge and did not proceed to trial, you may eligible to apply to have your DUI arrest expunged from your criminal record.
If your case resulted in a “breakdown” or reduction of the DUI charges to reckless driving and you received a withhold of adjudication, you may be eligible to apply to have your record sealed.
Once you get your record sealed the public will not have access to it. You can legally deny that it ever happened, meaning you can answer “no” if asked whether you have been arrested, charged or convicted. There are still some government agencies that will have access to a record that has been sealed. When your record has been expunged, those same government agencies will only be able to see that your record has been expunged but will not be able to see the full record without a court order.
Be aware, however, that because we live in the information age where pretty much everything is available with the click of a button, records of your arrest may never completely disappear.
Numerous third-party websites and services exist on the internet that have access to public information and then proceed to plaster it all over their sites.
The easiest way to ensure that you will never be able to get a DUI off your record is to go to court without the assistance of an experienced DUI lawyer to help you fight the charges. Walking into court and pleading guilty will guarantee that you will not be able to erase this mistake from your permanent criminal record.
Let me know how I can help you. Call, (305) 707-7345 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case, options and possible defenses.