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2023 How to Expunge a DUI in California? Step-by-Step Guide


Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are some of the most common types of charges criminals face in California. While DUI charges can impact your ability to operate a motor vehicle, your future employment and quality of life could be impacted. If you receive a DUI conviction, you may think that it will drop off your record over time. Unfortunately, DUI charges do not just disappear, and they can follow you for a lifetime. However, under the right circumstances and with a petition to the court, it can be possible to have a DUI charge expunged from your record.

When a DUI Is Eligible for Expungement

California allows those convicted of a DUI to petition for an expungement at the end of their probationary period. However, within that time frame, you must have completed all the requirements you were ordered to fulfill as a result of your DUI. This could include fines, jail time, or DUI school. Also, you must not have served any time in state prison for your DUI unless it would have been served in a county jail under the implementation of Proposition 47. You must avoid any other arrests during that time as well. Unless there are other charges associated with your conviction, most of the charges for DUI will meet the requirements allowing an expungement.

If you are granted an expungement, your record will reflect a DUI prior. This means if you are convicted of another DUI within 10 years, it will still be treated as a second offense which will increase the penalties you are likely to face. The benefit to expungement, though, is that it will no longer have an impact on your current or potential employment opportunities as it is no longer allowed to be used against you in any hiring or promotion decisions.

Petitioning for Expungement

At the completion of your probation, you are eligible to petition for expungement. This petition will then go to a judge who will determine if you are eligible. If you are eligible and they grant the expungement, you will be asked to withdraw your guilty plea and reenter a plea of not guilty. If your guilty verdict was the result of a jury trial, a judge will simply set aside the verdict and then ultimately dismiss the case.

The Benefits of Expungement

The biggest benefit of having your DUI expunged is that you will find securing employment much easier. Even if your potential job doesn’t involve driving for the job, many employers could view a DUI charge as a hindrance to your getting to work on time. When the DUI charge is expunged, it can no longer be held against you in the hiring or promotion stages. You are not under any legal obligation to report the expunged charge, and even if the employer discovers it, they may not use it against you.

While this benefit is a great reason to seek expungement, there are some things that it will not help you with including:

  • It will not help you retain your license. In most cases, the suspension of your license will last the term of your probation. However, if you are in a case where this is not true, the expungement will not help return your license to you faster.
  • You must still report your conviction for anything involving the state licensing board or for teaching licensure. You may find that an expungement will still look more favorable when this information is provided, though.
  • As previously mentioned, it will not excuse you from future conviction penalties. If your expungement occurs, it does not reset your DUI charge count. If you receive subsequent charges within a 10-year period, penalties will continue to progress normally.

Regardless of the pros and cons list that you may make, it certainly is advantageous to have your record expunged if possible.


Q: How Do I File for Expungement in California?

A: The first step is to seek an attorney for help. You will then work with the attorney to gather and file the necessary forms. The forms will be submitted to the court for consideration. You will work with your attorney to prepare for any necessary hearings. Your attorney will then help you understand how an accepted or rejected petition works and what your options are.

Q: How Much Does It Cost to Have Your Record Expunged in California?

A: The court costs for a DUI expungement will likely cost about $1,000. The cost of attorney services will vary depending on the complexities of your case and the experience of the attorney you work with. When you choose an attorney, speak with them about their fees and the fees that you could incur from court costs.

Q: Who Qualifies for Expungement in California?

A: When seeking a DUI expungement, you must first complete the court-ordered requirements of your conviction. This often could include jail time, fines, and DUI school. In addition, you are not eligible for expungement until the terms of your probation have been fulfilled. Once these requirements have been met, you may petition the court.

Q: Will an Expungement Show on Background Check in California?

A: When a criminal conviction is expunged from your record, it completely removes it from your criminal background. The arrest and any conviction will still appear on your record, but it can only be revealed under a court order. If your conviction was a part of any news story or media, it can still be revealed in an online search, but it cannot be used against you.

DUI Expungement Attorneys You Can Count On

Needing to have a DUI expunged from your record is a process that could potentially be avoided with the right attorney from the time of your arrest. Utilizing the services of a DUI defense attorney in Torrance, CA, could help you beat the charges before you are convicted. If you need help with your DUI charges or to get a DUI expunged from your record, contact the attorneys at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP. Our attorneys fight aggressively for you.

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