After you’ve been stopped and arrested for DWI, you may be wondering what’s next, and if you’ll be stuck with a DWI forever. If you’ve been convicted, the answer is a flat-out “no.” If you were simply arrested and charged, but were acquitted or not convicted (i.e., charges dropped), expungement is possible, if you have patience.
Were You Charged Or Were You Convicted?
North Carolina has some of the strictest DWI laws in the US. The process, called “expunction,” allows removal in some cases of a DWI. Much like the DWI laws, the criteria for expunction are also quite strict.
As of December 1, 2015, North Carolina no longer allows DWI convictions to be expunged. A DWI conviction stays on your record permanently.
If you were under 18 at the time of the DWI, you can request expunction if:
- You were charged with a misdemeanor
- You had no other incidents or convictions (other than minor traffic violations), and have been “on good behavior” (affidavit required), and not yet 21
- You have no additional judgments or restitution orders against you
- Two people not related to you can supply affidavits (“character witnesses”) that can truthfully attest that you have had no additional incidents and have “practiced good behavior”
- You have no additional incidents or convictions that would show up in a background check of state and/or national databases
If you were over 21 at the time of the arrest, you can apply for expunction if:
- The incident was more than 15 years ago
- You were arrested and charged, but not convicted, or
- You went through trial and found not guilty of DWI
- You have no additional arrests and convictions
The courts will only expunge one incident for you in your lifetime. In rare cases, a DWI conviction can be sealed, and only available to court personnel. However, this isn’t the norm in North Carolina. Should you have another DWI, the first incident can be used in subsequent court proceedings. Only state judges have access to these records, to ensure that more than one isn’t granted.
A DWI Arrest Can Be Devastating
Even if you weren’t convicted, being accused and arrested for DWI can be embarrassing. You can lose your job, your driving privileges, custody of your children, have trouble finding a job and so much more. An expunction may allow you to remove a one-time DWI from your record.
Once the expunction is completed, it will not show up in background checks and other places. Landlords, employers and the general public will no longer be able to access your DWI record. You can also legally answer “no” when asked about a criminal background. In some cases, associated DNA evidence is also expunged.
Call For Your Free Consultation
You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the process and can help you clear your name.
Dewey P. Brinkley is a Board-Certified Specialist with the North Carolina State Bar and a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney. As a criminal defense attorney, he can work with you to make sure your application is complete and properly filed, and advise you on what comes next.
An expunction is a detailed and long-term process, but not impossible. If you’re interested in having a DWI arrest/charge expunged from your record, contact our office at 919-832-0307 for a free consultation today.