So, you got pulled over and the office wrote you up for a possible DUI. It’s not a conviction (yet), but anyone who wants to browse the local district courts or run a background check can see that you were pulled over – and judge you before you ever step foot in a courtroom.
The involved officer’s name, department, and ID number
The time and date of the alleged violation
The case’s current status and ID number
The charge and description of the alleged violation
The location – both county and road address – of the traffic stop
Your vehicle’s license and description
Along with the DUI information, there will be extensive personal information available for public view on the case search. This information includes your:
Full legal name
Race or ethnicity
Height and weight
Date of birth
(At least your Social Security number isn’t listed on the case record, right?)
How Can I “Hide” or Expunge My DUI Case Records?
So, when it comes to "hiding" criminal traffic records, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news: Relatively minor traffic incidents more than three years old are automatically pushed off of the public case search into a more private historical database. However, these records are still available for any MVA clerk to pull whenever they need to.
The bad news:DUIs and related charges are typically not considered “minor” traffic violations. If they expect you to show up to court of some kind, then you can safely assume the state and the MVA doesn’t consider the incident to be insignificant.
That said, it is possible to decrease the visibility of your DUI charge by requesting that the state expunge – or completely remove – your DUI from any public case records or databases.
When Can I Expunge a DUI Record? How Can I Expunge a DUI?
You can request for a DUI to be expunged under very specific circumstances, depending on the severity of the charges. As some good rules of thumb:
You can’t get an expungement for a case that’s still open or pending. You’ll probably want to fight the charge as best you can to avoid a guilty verdict, though, because…
The court will not expunge a DUI record for which you plead guilty or have a "Probation Before Judgment" sentence. There are a ton of other ways that a charges can be resolved without a guilty verdict; however, once you plead guilty to a DUI charge, it’s on your public record for life.
The court can deny a petition for expungement. Even if you’ve checked off all the boxes, the court can decide that your request for expungement isn’t compelling enough to grant the request. Having a lawyer review or – better yet – write your petition can help avoid this particular outcome.
Even if approved, expungement takes a while. It will take at least 90 days from the day you file to the date you receive your “Certificate of Compliance” from the agency that expunged the DUI record. And no, there’s no way to fast track an expungement – we’d tell you and our clients if there were. Don’t try to file for expungement the day before a new employer does a background check!
The FBI or police can still see and access your DUI record. The expungement takes it off of the publicly viewable documents, but it’s not exactly like the DUI incident never happened.
Remember: Do not assume that the DUI is expunged until you get that certificate!
Can You Shield a DUI Record?
In legal terms, “shielding” is when a criminal record is taken off of a publicly viewable database, such as the Maryland case search.
Well, perfect! you may be thinking. That’s exactly what I want to do with my DUI!