Should I expunge an old DWI?

Kimberly2 1Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

Driving While Intoxicated is a capital offense and other magical thoughts…

Ok, driving while intoxicated is not a capital offenseHowever, back in the good old days in the hell-raising 80s when I was pulled over for a DWI, the consequences were nothing, even without a lawyer, compared to today.   The penalties today seem ten times worse.First time drivers charged with DWI back then didn’t experience any suspension of their license, and at least in Kansas where I grew up, you could go talk to the prosecutor and he’d have you take a class and dismiss the charge if you where a good boy (or girl) for six months.Back then in Missouri, and many other states, the per se limit was .15 BAC (breath alcohol content).  Today it’s .08 BAC in every state except Utah, which is .05 BAC.In the 80s a DWI was a non-incident, really. The arrest might be on my record, but no DWI guilty plea or finding of guilt. And that can be very important should you find yourself in trouble for DWI in the future.I, however, am a big fan of Uber, and since it’s my livelihood, I think $20 in Uber fees are much better than $7,500 or more for a DWI.If it has been a decade since you pleaded guilty to a DWI, no matter what the outcome of probation, fine, or jail time, you might be able to get that guilty plea expunged from you record.Your DWI cannot have been in a vehicle that required a CDL to drive, and you cannot have had another DWI in your life. Also, you cannot have expunged any other DWI in the past. The DWI must also have been in Missouri, for us to handle the matter with the local court.The benefits of a DWI expungement are very important for you and should be a high priority for several reasons.First, it cleans up your driving record. The Missouri Department of Revenue will remove the alcohol related suspension or revocation action on your driving record. This means that your work, insurance, and other back-ground checks will not see that you have an alcohol related offense on your driving record.Second, any public record of the guilty plea will be removed from the public record, so it will be as if you never got pulled over after a night on the town with one too many vodka tonics on your breath.This is important even if you were told that “the DWI will no longer be on your record” because you had an SIS (suspended imposition of sentence).  See, that was not a truthful statement you were told.  I have heard many lawyers and even judges tell people this statement and it is absolutely not true.The TRUTH is that you have many records.  The SIS means you were not convicted so you do not have a public record.  That’s it.  But it is still “on your record” because you have an arrest record and a guilty plea record.  An SIS is a plea of guilty to a crime!Therefore, even with an SIS you must admit to the DWI arrest or the DWI guilty plea when asked, like on job applications or license applications for example.The only way to lawfully be able to deny the arrest and guilty plea to the DWI is by getting an expungement.  The law states that with an expungement you are returned to the position you were in before the arrest, as if it never happened.If you do not expunge the DWI arrest and guilty plea, then law enforcement can see it and use it against you.  And if you are unlucky enough to be arrested again for DWI in your future, the court can punish you more this time because it is your second.  And if you’re unlucky enough to get 2 more in your future, then the 3rd one is a felony, which can lead to jail time, prison, and losing your gun rights and other rights because you will be a convicted felon.Do you see now why expunging your 1st DWI is such a smart thing to do?Reach out today to the Missouri DWI and Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC and click the “CONTACT US NOW” box to schedule a time to get a free evaluation and check on your ability to expunge a prior DWI.With all this COVID 19 stay at home time, my wife and I like to watch Harry Potter movies and relax. The movies are one of those things that gives us a little solace.  I like to imagine our experts at the Missouri DWI and Criminal Law Center are wizards waiving our wands and making old convictions disappear forever.  Let us perform some magic for you!

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