How to Expunge a DUI in Columbus, Ohio

Being charged with drinking under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is never good. In Columbus, Ohio, this is particularly true. Unless you are a first-time offender, you will not be able to prevent the record of the arrest from appearing on background check


One night of poor judgement can ruin your life. Prospective employers, insurers and college admissions personnel will have access to your record. This can stop you getting a job, being accepted into the college or university of your choice and will affect your motor insurance premiums. It can impair your ability to gain entry into certain countries. You may not be able to obtain a firearm.

Under extremely limited circumstances, you may be able to have your record sealed. This means it will not be visible to outside agencies and will not appear on background checks. It will, however, remain visible to law enforcement agencies. You will also be prohobited from seeking any future charges from being cleared from your record.

Definition of DUI in Columbus, Ohio

In the State of Ohio, it is against the law for any driver, anywhere in the state, to operate a motor vehicle while they are under the influence of either alcohol or drugs (both prescription and non-prescription). It is also an offence to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is over the legal designated limit. In other words, if you test for too high a BAC, you may be charged with DUI even if your driving is not visibly impaired.

Penalties for DUI in Columbus, Ohio

The State of Ohio has some of the toughest DUI penalties in the country. These are outlined below.

First conviction in six years

  • First Degree Misdemeanor
  • Jail: Either a minimum of three days OR driver intervention program. Maximum six months
  • Fine: $375 - $1,075
  • Mandatory license suspension: Between six months and three years
  • Driving privileges: Not available for first 15 days
  • Optional interlock device AND DUI license plates (yellow)
  • Possible treatment

Second conviction in six years

  • First Degree Misdemeanor
  • Jail: Minimum 10 days OR 5 days plus 18 days of continuous alcohol monitoring AND/OR Electronically Monitored House Arrest
  • Fine: $525 - $1,625
  • Mandatory license suspension: Between one year and six years
  • Driving Privileges: Not available for first 45 days
  • Mandatory interlock device AND DUI license plates (yellow)
  • Vehicle immobilized for 90 days
  • Alcohol/drug assessment and mandatory compliance with recommendations

Third and subsequent convictions

  • Three or more priors within six years - Fourth Degree Felony
  • Five or more priors within 20 years - Fourth Degree Felony
  • Fine: $850 - $10,500
  • Mandatory vehicle forfeiture, license suspension (up to lifetime suspension), treatment, interlock device and DUI plates (yellow)

What it Means to Expunge a DUI in Columbus, Ohio

Under Ohio State law, expungement generally means the sealing of a criminal conviction. The only instance in which expungement is possible is if this is the defendant's first offense. Some offenses may not be expunged. Among these is DUI. In addition to ineligibililty for expungement, having a DUI conviction means that any subsequent offenses will not be eligible to be expunged. 

A suitably qualified attorney may be able to help you obtain an expungement for a first offense. This means that you will not be required to mention it on a job application. It also means that it will only be visible to law enforcement personnel. For most purposes, you will be able to treat the arrest or conviction as if it never happened.

How to Expunge a DUI in Columbus, Ohio

The first step to clearing your record is obtaining the services of a qualified attorney. This is someone who will have several years of experience in dealing with DUI cases. This is a very complicated area of Ohio State law. Your attorney may, for example, be able to negotiate a lesser charge of Reckless Operation, in which case you will be eligible to have the record expunged.

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