Can You Expunge a DUI Conviction?

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When is it possible to expunge a DUI conviction in Ohio?   Section 2953.31, et seq., of the Ohio Revised Code provides for the sealing of a defendant’s record of conviction if the defendant was a “first offender.”  Most traffic offenses do not count as an offense for purposes of the expungement statute.  For example, if a person has a speeding ticket in 2010, and then is convicted of theft in 2011, the speeding ticket would not count as a prior conviction with respect to the theft conviction.

Unfortunately, even if a DUI is the person’s first offense and the person is therefore a “first offender” under the statute, DUI convictions can never be expunged.  Not only are DUI convictions non-expungeable, but they also count as a prior conviction.  This means that once convicted of a DUI, a person can never have their record expunged.  The conviction will follow them for life.

This unfortunate law is part of an on-going trend to treat DUI offenses not only differently, but more harshly.  A first offense DUI in Ohio is a misdemeanor of the first degree, the same level offense as petty theft, assault, resisting arrest, etc.  However, the penalties for a first offense DUI are mandatorily harsher than other first-degree misdemeanor offenses.  Not only are the penalties harsher, but the conviction for DUI will never go away.

This disparity between DUI offenses and other misdemeanor offenses provides all the more reason for a person charged with DUI in Columbus to seek the advice of experienced Ohio DWI Attorneys.