With a DUI on your record, you might find it difficult to get a good job or even end up having to change careers altogether. In addition to losing your income, you could face increased insurance costs that remain high for years after the incident occurs. As you grapple with these repercussions, you will undoubtedly face extra scrutiny and judgment every time you need to get a background check done.
All that may leave you wishing for a clear DUI record, but it may be too late, especially in Washington State. Here’s what you need to know.
Washington State DUI Records are Permanent
Although you are allowed to vacate misdemeanor convictions in Washington State, DUIs are not eligible for consideration as they are an excluded offense. RCW 9.96.060
RCW 9.96.060 is the statute that grants judges authority to vacate criminal convictions. In short, if convicted of a DUI, the record is permanent. If your DUI is reduced to a lesser charge, like Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving in the First Degree, then you may seek to have the conviction vacated from your record 10 years after the date of violation, as long as you meet the other requirements. Those requirements include completion of all conditions of sentence, including any substance abuse treatment, fines, etc. for at least three years prior to the request. Additionally, you must not have any subsequent alcohol or drug related violations for the 10 years following the date of arrest.
It should also be noted that any prior convictions may be used by the prosecuting authority to increase sentencing recommendations, regardless of how much time has passed. Likewise, a judge may also take prior convictions into account. In fact, if the prior convictions are within 7 years of the current offense, the court must follow mandatory minimum sentences and licensing consequences laid out in RCW 46.61.5055. The penalties are greatly increased for each consecutive conviction of DUI within a 7 year period. A fourth offense within 10 years will almost always be charged as a Felony DUI. Even reductions from a DUI can count as prior DUI offenses, so it is crucial to seek representation immediately upon a subsequent arrest.
The best way to fully protect yourself is to hire a DUI lawyer to allow them to work hard to get you the results you need. With their help, the court may reduce the charge to reckless driving or similar. Then, after ten years, they can help you have those reduced charges vacated to clear your record.
The Chance for a Clear DUI Record Starts Early
Since a clear DUI record is outside your grasp after the conviction is set in stone, your best bet is avoiding the charge altogether. Although it’s best to simply never drive while intoxicated, the next best move is hiring a DUI attorney right off the bat.
The second you’re pulled over and believe you are being investigated for a DUI, request to speak to your attorney before doing anything else. Once they have asked you if you’ve been drinking and to step from the vehicle, you are most certainly the subject of a DUI investigation. Do not speak with the officer beyond that statement nor take any of their Voluntary Field Sobriety Tests or Voluntary Portable Breath Test. They will likely take you down to the station and should put you in touch with your lawyer as requested. They have already told you by that point that you have a right to speak with an attorney, so be sure to use that right. You should not subject yourself to the Evidentiary Breath Test at the station until you’ve had a chance to speak with a DUI attorney. Then you will be able to make a fully informed decision about whether to take the test or refuse the test.
With a DUI lawyer by your side, you have a chance at getting the charges reduced to other misdemeanors. You can then avoid the serious repercussions of not having a clear DUI record. You want the best chance possible of getting a non-DUI misdemeanor vacated later on.
You Can Remove Other Misdemeanor Offenses
If you were charged with other misdemeanor offenses at the same time as the DUI, you can file a request to have your record vacated. Most criminal convictions can be vacated, so if you have criminal history that you would like cleared from your record, be sure to reach out to Wood Sims Law to see what they can do to help.
In addition to DUIs, there are some records that cannot be vacated, however, such as:
- Violent offenses
- Pending criminal charges
- Sex offenses
- Repeat domestic violence offenses
You may also have a waiting period to abide by before making your request. If you’re looking to vacate domestic violence charges, for example, you’ll have to wait five years after completing all the court’s orders, including the payment of all your fines.
You may seek to have multiple convictions vacated from your record, with some exceptions. One thing you should know, however, is that when you ask the court to vacate a record, you’re not requesting its full removal from the system. Law enforcement, prosecutors and courts will still have access to these records. However, the vacated convictions will be removed from your Washington State Patrol criminal history background and FBI background checks. For all intents and purposes, you will legally be able to state you have never been convicted of the original charges. Once vacated, the conviction will no longer be disseminated or disclosed by WSP or the original arresting law enforcement agency to anyone except for other criminal justice enforcement agencies.
What to Expect When Vacating a Conviction
Wood Sims Law is here to help you vacate your conviction(s). Once it has been determined that you are eligible to have your conviction(s) vacated, an attorney will complete the necessary paperwork and obtain your signatures on the necessary forms. The motion will be filed, an attorney will appear on your behalf and assuming all goes according to plan, the attorney will get an Order Vacating Criminal Conviction signed. That order will then be provided to the proper agencies and in a matter of time, your records will be updated accordingly.
Your Seattle DUI Lawyer is Ready to Help
If you want to maintain a clear DUI record, but are currently facing charges, call 206-246-5300 to speak to our team at Wood Sims Law PLLC. As your Seattle DUI lawyer, we can help you move through the process without making costly missteps along the way. We can also help with vacating qualifying misdemeanor charges in Washington State when you are ready to take that step.