If you’re charged or convicted of DUI in Georgia, it can stay with you the rest of your life. It can affect your insurance rates. It can prevent you from renting a car. It can even prevent you from getting or renewing certain professional licenses. Many DUI defendants ask if they can just have their DUI conviction expunged. People tend to be confused when it comes to expungement. Most people think you can just pay to have something removed from your criminal record. In Georgia, it doesn’t work this way.
Nobody wants a DUI showing up on their criminal record. Most people don’t want anything to show up on their record. So, it can be frustrating to think that your DUI charges or conviction will show up. This is the case when you’re doing a criminal background check for a job.
If you’ve been charged or convicted of DUI, there are very few options when it comes to fixing your criminal record. The best thing is to make sure you’re not convicted in the first place. This is why you should always call an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Atlanta if you’re charged with DUI.
The Difference Between an Expungement and a Record Restriction
If you’re convicted of certain crimes in Georgia, you can apply to have the record expunged. Essentially, if something is expunged, it won’t appear on your criminal record. It can still, however, be used in criminal proceedings. For example, if you’ve been convicted of a crime in the past and it’s expunged, a prosecutor will still see it for sentencing purposes.
As of 2013, Georgia no longer refers to this process as expungement. Instead, it’s now called record restriction. This means that access to your full criminal record is restricted to law enforcement and the court system.
For DUI, there is no record restriction. If you’re convicted of DUI in Atlanta, there’s nothing your DUI lawyer can do about it. It will stay on your record forever. This is why it’s so important that you have a good Atlanta DUI lawyer by your side. They can do their best to make sure the charges don’t turn into a conviction.
You Can Have Charges Restricted from Your Record
As we said earlier, you can’t have a DUI conviction expunged or restricted. However, charges are treated differently. If you’ve been charged with DUI but were never convicted, you can ask to have the record restricted.
Most people don’t realize that, if you don’t request to have the charges restricted, they’ll stay on your record. This means that an employer, school or professional organization will still see it. It will show up as a charge, just not a conviction. This can be enough to prevent you from getting the job or professional license you want.
It’s your job, as the defendant, to have the record restricted. It doesn’t happen automatically. So, if your Georgia DUI lawyer is able to get your charges dismissed or reduced, that’s not the end of the story. You’ll still need to have them request to have the record restricted.
Record Restriction Has Nothing to Do With the 5 and 10-Year DUI Laws
In Georgia, the penalties for DUI go way up if you have multiple convictions. There are two main rules you need to know about. The 10-year rule provides for the following penalties if you’re convicted of DUI twice within a ten-year period:
- 72 hours in jail
- Fines of $600-$1,000 plus court costs
- 240 hours of community service
- DUI school
- 12 months of probation
- Clinical evaluation
- Substance abuse treatment
If you’re convicted of two DUI within 5 years, the penalties are even worse. You’ll have to endure the above penalties as well as the following:
- Your picture will be published in the paper as a convicted drunk driver
- Driver’s license will be suspended for at least 18 months
- You won’t be allowed to apply for a limited driving permit for at least 4 months
- You’ll have to get an ignition interlock device installed
Just because the 5 or 10 years have gone by without additional DUI convictions, that doesn’t mean it will disappear from your record. It simply means you won’t be subjected to the above mandatory minimum penalties.
Contact an Experienced DUI Lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia
If you’ve been charged with DUI, you should call an experienced DUI lawyer in Atlanta at Howard & Arca. As you can see, the penalties for DUI are severe. You don’t want to take DUI charges lightly. Call today to schedule your initial consultation.