How to Expunge a DUI in Washington, District of Columbia

Like any criminal conviction, having a DUI on your record can seriously disrupt many aspects of your life. It can keep you from getting a job, insurance, a place at a good college and even keep you from entering some foreign countries. Provided certain co

Definition of DUI in Washington, District of Columbia 

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is a measure of how much alcohol is in an individual's bloodstream. It is measured in grams per 100 ml of blood. A BAC of 0.08% is sufficient to be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). A driver of a commercial vehicle need only register a BAC of 0.04% to be charged. For minors under the age of 21, Washington, District Columbia has a Zero Tolerance Policy. This means that anything over 0.00% is sufficient for a DUI charge.

DUI Penalties

Implied Consent Laws and refusal to take chemical tests

Like many states, Washington, DC, has an implied consent law. This means that anyone who operates a motor vehicle is understood to have given consent to take two tests to determine their BAC if a police officer deems it necessary. Refusal for whatever reason means an immediate twelve-month suspension of of the individual's driving license. 

DUI First Offense

  • Jail - Maximum sentence of 90 days
  • Fine - $300 to $1,000
  • Six months suspended license

DUI Second Offense

  • Jail - Maximum sentence of one year
  • Fine - $1,000 to $5,000
  • Two-year suspended license

DUI Third Offfense

  • Jail - Maximum sentence of one year
  • Fine - $2,000 to $5,000
  • Two-year suspended license

Expunging a DUI in Washington, District of Columbia

A conviction, or even an arrest, for DUI in Washington, DC, will remain on an individual's criminal record indefinitely unless they take pro-active steps to have their criminal records sealed, i.e., hidden from public view. This is not the same thing as expungement, which is defined as the process of removing a conviction from an individual's criminal history. 

Driving while intoxicated (DWI), while under the influence (DUI) or operating while impaired (OWI) are all criminal misdemeanors under D.C. Code § 50-2201.05. Convictions for these offenses are not eligible for expungement in Washington, DC.

Sealing an arrest record for DUI in Washington, District of Columbia 

The Criminal Record Sealing Act in Washington, DC, permits an individual to seal their record under certain circumstances. These are if:

  • they were found innocent AND they can prove it; OR
  • they were not convicted; OR
  • they have not been convicted of a failure to appear OR an eligible misdemeanor

The must also:

  • have no cases pending
  • have no subsequent convictions
  • they have never been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors
  • they have satisfied the compulsory waiting period before filing. This may be two, five or ten years

Procedure for filing to have a criminal record sealed 

If an individual feels they fulfill the above criteria, they may file a Motion to Seal Criminal Records. Some people choose to represent themselves and not secure the services of a qualified attorney. This is not recommended. The laws surrounding DUI, expungement and sealing of criminal records is highly complex and may evolve over time. 

The first step is to obtain copies of police, court and sentence completion records. Certain documents then need to be prepared. These are:

  • Motion
  • Memorandum
  • Proposed Order

Along with supporting documentation, these need to be submitted to the Superior Court Criminal Division Clerk’s Office. A judge will review the documents and forward his recommendation to the government how to respond. This usually occurs within sixty days. The Court will make the ultimate decision on whether or not to grant the Motion. If the Motion is granted, it is essential to follow up with all of the agencies who were involved with the case to ensure they comply with the Motion.

The foregoing is not intended to be construed as legal advice. 

To compare expunging a DUI in Washington, District of Columbia, with other states in the union, please see the following:

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Debora Prishtli
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