In the state of Illinois, a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction lingers on a driver's record forever without an option for expungement, erasure or removal of the conviction from state or federal court records. However, "conviction" is the key word here – Illinois drivers who were merely charged with a DUI, but not convicted, have a few options (and a lot of paperwork) to explore.
Illinois DUI Records
As the Law Office of Dennis F. Dwyer in Chicago summarizes, when someone is arrested, a criminal record is created. That arrest – any arrest – is placed on the public record, regardless of whether the defendant was found guilty or not. When dealing with DUIs in Illinois, the distinction between having a DUI arrest on the record and having a drunk driving conviction on the record is extremely important.
That's because in the Prairie State, DUI convictions cannot be expunged. In fact, the DUI cannot be expunged even if the defendant received a determination of supervision – a deferred dismissal of the charge. The Illinois' Criminal Identification Act 20 ILCS 2630 notes that to expunge records in this sense means to either physically destroy them, impound them or return them to the petitioner.
What about sealing the record? In this case, the record still exists rather than being destroyed, but it is not publicly viewable and is accessible only in a limited capacity to law enforcement officials. In Illinois, DUI convictions or determinations of supervision can't be sealed, either.
Expunging Charges Not Convictions
So, it's clear that a DUI conviction on the record in Illinois isn't going anywhere, but the story changes when the driver is charged with the crime, but not convicted. For example, these determinations are not convictions:
- The case is dismissed.
- The defendant is acquitted (found not guilty).
- The case is stricken with leave (SOL), removed from the docket with the potential for being reinstated later.
- The court finds no probable cause to convict.
- The prosecutor decides not to continue with the charges.
- No charges are filed.
In these situations where the driver is arrested and charged with a DUI, but not convicted, that person may file a request to have the DUI charge expunged from their record. In 2017, House Bill 6328 made this possible; previously, even DUI charges that didn't end in convictions could not be expunged in Illinois.
The Expungement Process
Thanks to the Illinois Supreme Court's Access to Justice initiative in 2012, the Office of the State Appellate Defender offers easy-to-access, free sealing and expungement application forms that are accepted at every courthouse in the Land of Lincoln.
Those filing for expungement of an arrest record will need copies of their criminal records, such as court dispositions, court orders, record of arrests and prosecutions, and statewide criminal history transcripts, which can be obtained from the Illinois State Police or Circuit Court. According to the state government, those seeking expungement must submit the Request to Expunge & Impound and/or Seal Criminal Records form and the Notice of Filing for Expungement and/or Sealing form.
These forms can be found at the Illinois Supreme Court's Approved Statewide Forms website and may be submitted with a fee via e-filing or with the circuit clerk in the county where the arrest or charge in question occurred. In some cases, law enforcement agencies or others may object to the request for expungement; in other cases, the filer may be required to appear in an Illinois court. When the request is approved, expungement occurs within 60 days. House Bill 6238 also allows expungement applicants to file without a fee in Cook County, but applicants in other Illinois counties aren't so lucky – they'll have to pay the required fees.
- Illinois Compiled Statutes: 20 ILCS 2630 Criminal Identification Act
- Illinois General Assembly: Bill Status of HB6328
- Law Office of Dennis F. Dwyer: Can DUI Charges Be Expunged in Illinois?
- Office of the State Appellate Defender: Expungement and Sealing
- Illinois.gov: How to Expunge and/or Seal a Criminal Record
- Illinois Supreme Court: Approved Statewide Forms
As a freelance writer and small business owner with a decade of experience, Dan has contributed legal- and finance-oriented content to diverse sources including Chron, Fortune, Zacks.com, Motley Fool and MSN Money, among others.