Updated: August 14, 2023 | Original Post: April 21, 2021
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If You Want To Get a DUI Off Your Record, You Need To Avoid a Conviction At All Costs
If you want to get a DUI off your record in Colorado, you need to avoid a DUI conviction. Unlike many other offenses you can have sealed or expunged from your criminal history, a conviction for DUI as an adult will stay with you forever. That reflects how seriously Colorado law takes drunk driving. But while you cannot get a DUI conviction off your record, under certain circumstances you can ask the court to seal records relating to a DUI arrest such that most of the world will never know it ever happened.
The burden of a lifelong criminal record is just one of many reasons you need to hire a DUI defense attorney if you face drunk driving charges – even for a first-time offense. An adult DUI conviction, which will turn up on background checks, job applications, and other situations, will stain your reputation and cost you employment, housing, and financial opportunities. A DUI on your record will continue to haunt you long after you have otherwise completed any sentence a judge hands down.
What You’ll Learn in This Post:
- An adult DUI conviction, including a conviction based on a guilty plea, will stay on your record forever and cannot be sealed or expunged. Except for underage DUI, avoiding a conviction is the only way to keep a DUI off your record.
- While DUI convictions cannot be expunged or sealed, DUI arrests that do not result in charges or a conviction may be eligible for sealing.
- Sealing a DUI arrest record means you can truthfully say to potential employers and almost everyone else that you have no arrests for DUI on your record.
Difference Between Sealing or Expunging Your Criminal Record
The first thing you need to understand about getting a DUI off your record is what it actually means to get something “off your record.” And in Colorado, that can mean one of two distinct things: expungement or sealing. Only one of those two – sealing – is available for DUI arrests, and neither is an option after a DUI conviction.
Expungement is what most people think of when they think of an offense being taken off their record, as it involves physically destroying the record of the crime such that it appears to never have happened. Once a record is expunged, you can lawfully deny that you were arrested, charged, convicted, or sentenced for the expunged offense.
Unfortunately, expungement of criminal records in Colorado is only for juvenile offenses and underage drinking and driving (UDD). If you have a juvenile UDD conviction on your record for driving with a blood alcohol level of at least .02 but no more than .05, you or your juvenile crimes defense attorney can file a Petition for Expungement with El Paso County court (or the county court where you were convicted) once you turn 21 years old.
Sealing a criminal record, on the other hand, doesn’t involve destroying a record. Instead, sealing means that while the offense remains on your record, only limited groups, such as law enforcement and other governmental authorities, can see it. A sealed record won’t appear on background checks or housing applications, and as far as the general public is concerned, it doesn’t exist.
As with expungement, sealing an adult DUI conviction is simply not an option. Avoiding a conviction is the only way to ensure you keep a DUI off your record, an entry that will follow you forever.
You Might Like: Answers to Common DUI FAQs
Pleading Guilty To DUI Won’t Save You From a Criminal Record
Importantly, not only will a DUI conviction by a judge or jury leave a permanent stain on your record, a plea of guilty or no contest will also stay on your record forever.
Make no mistake, entering into a DUI plea agreement means telling the court – and the world at large – you are guilty of a criminal offense. While you may be able to leave the courthouse “free”, you may not be able to walk away from the long-term consequence of your decision.
Too often, however, DUI defendants think that entering into a plea agreement with prosecutors is the “easy way out,” especially if they believe, rightly or wrongly, that prosecutors have them dead to rights. Why spend the money on a DUI defense attorney and go through the ordeal of a trial if they’re going to be found guilty anyway, they may think.
Think again. Far from the “easy way out,” an imprudent plea bargain can make things much more difficult for you and lead to bigger problems than the ones you currently face. Additionally, you don’t know what you don’t know about the defenses you may have or the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that could provide you with a fighting chance to beat the charges. But an experienced DUI defense attorney does. Your attorney can ensure that you avoid making an ill-advised decision to plead guilty and offer you the best opportunity to avoid a conviction and keep the letters DUI off your record.
Related Reading: What Are the Typical Punishments for a First-Time DUI in Colorado?
Getting a DUI Off Your Record By Sealing Your DUI Arrest
While a DUI conviction will be on your record, a DUI arrest without a subsequent conviction may be eligible for sealing. Colorado law allows for the sealing of a record of a DUI arrest without a conviction. How and when you can get your arrest sealed depends on when you were arrested, whether charges were ever filed, and how your case was ultimately resolved.
If your DUI arrest was after January 1, 2022 but prosecutors don’t charge you with DUI within one year of your arrest, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation must automatically seal your arrest record. Longer time frames apply to arrests made before that date.
If you faced DUI charges but were not convicted, you can ask a court to seal the record of your arrest (effectively taking your DUI off your record) if prosecutors decided to dismiss your case, a judge or jury acquitted you of the DUI charges, or after you have completed a deferred judgment and sentence.
To file a petition to seal your DUI arrest, you need to request and obtain your record from the police, fill out the appropriate forms, and file the petition with the court. If a judge grants your request, you can send a copy of the judge’s order to all law enforcement agencies or prosecutor’s offices that have your record.
At that point, you can truthfully say to potential employers and almost everyone else that you have no arrests for DUI on your record.
To Keep a DUI Off Your Record You Need Aggressive and Experienced Representation
With so much at stake, you need to make every effort to keep a DUI off your record. And the best way to do this is to hire the experienced and aggressive Colorado Springs DUI defense attorneys at James Newby Law. As former DUI prosecutors, these experts use the insights they gained to defend the rights of individuals facing DUI charges. Attacking the prosecution’s case at every turn, James Newby Law puts those accused of criminal activities in the best position to obtain a favorable outcome.