How To Expunge Your DUI in California

By Rose Smith
California law, the opportunity, your DUI, you

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A DUI--driving under the influence--conviction can wreak havoc in your life. A DUI on your California driving record surfaces when you apply for most jobs or home mortgages. It’s a blemish many business owners and bankers penalize you for as long as it's on your record. You can, however, take steps to erase it, provided you meet specific guidelines. According to San Diego DUI lawyer Michael Richmond, expungement is a great investment in you. Putting the past behind you can mean more opportunities and a fuller life.

Erasing Your DUI in California

California Penal  Code

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Determine your eligibility. California Penal Code 1203.3 states that the defendant may be able to have the criminal conviction expunged if all criteria are met.

According to Los Angeles attorney Christopher Koch, California lets first-time offenders with only one conviction for either a felony or a misdemeanor and with no charges pending file for DUI expungement.

You are not qualified if you were convicted of murder, rape, vehicular homicide or crimes committed while you were armed.

California law determines when defendants can file

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Determine when you are eligible to file. In California, you can file at least three years from the time you complete probation or parole or are freed from prison for a DUI -- and after all court fees and any fines, restitution or community service have been paid or finished.

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you can file one year from the time you were convicted.

You're eligible to apply at least two years from the time that a grand jury did not indict you and the jury's report of "no bill" was returned.

Any time after you were found not guilty or your case was thrown out, with documentation in the court's journal, you can apply to have your DUI expunged.

The cost of filing for DUI expungement in California varies

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Find out the cost of filing. According to, in California, the cost varies between $50 and $80. However, if you qualify for low-income status in the state, you can file a poverty affidavit.

Contact your local county courthouse and ask for the division that handles DUI expungements to inquire about the cost in your jurisdiction.

Determine whether or not a lawyer can help

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Consider whether or not you need to hire a DUI lawyer. Not everyone in California who files for an expungement is granted one.

According to attorney Michael Richmond, after a DUI arrest, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and assume the popular misconception that nothing can be done is true. "Many people don't even look into getting their DUI erased. It's best to talk to a lawyer because every arrest is unique."

About the Author

Rose Smith has been writing professionally since 1992. Her how-to and relationship articles have appeared in "Family Circle" and several other national publications. She has also written the books "Sizzling Monogamy" and "101 Ways to Date Your Mate." Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Illinois State University.

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