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Does an expunged DUI count as a previous conviction?

You get a DUI, and you have it expunged from your record. You assume this means it is entirely erased from your record forever. You’re glad to put it behind you and move forward with your life.

However, you wind up back in court on another charge, and the DUI gets brought up as a prior conviction. You contest that it no longer counts. After the expungement, isn’t it as if the arrest and conviction never occurred?

That’s not exactly how it works, though it is a common misconception. Law enforcement agencies and courts can still see that you got arrested and convicted. The DUI is not entirely gone. They can use it as proof of that previous conviction in some legal proceedings.

Instead of being erased, the record is “sealed.” This limits who can see it. The benefit to you is that it does not usually come up in a background check run by a third party. This means that a prospective employer will not see it, for instance. The same is true for a bank, a credit card company, an educational institution or another organization that may want to look into your background.

The legal system is the exception. There, your record still typically exists, though it is invisible to most others.

As you can see, having your record expunged can still help you move forward after an arrest and/or a conviction. It may make it easier to go back to college, get a job or buy a home, for instance. Make sure you know all of the legal steps you’ll need to take.

Source: FindLaw, “DUI Expungement,” accessed June 08, 2018