Any encounter with the legal justice system that is reflected on your record can have long-term impacts on your life and future opportunities, and a DWI is no exception. The details about your DWI, or driving while intoxicated or impaired, charge such as the arrest and conviction, will remain on your record forever. However, if a certain subset of circumstances applies to your case, you may be able to have the DWI removed (also called expunged) from your record so that it is not publicly visible anymore. In order to accomplish this, you must first determine if you qualify.
Being Charged With A DWI In Virginia
A DWI charge can arise if you are driving in a manner that indicates that you are impaired. It is important to note that your blood alcohol content does not need to exceed the legal limit in order for you to receive a DWI charge.
In fact, your blood alcohol can be as low as .02% (where the state limit is .08%) and you can still be charged with a DWI. You should also remember that driving while impaired does not solely refer to alcohol; other situations, such as being under the effect of drugs or even sleeplessness, can cause you to operate a vehicle unsafely.
Who Can View Your DWI Record?
If you have been charged with a DWI in Virginia, or if you have been convicted, this information is publicly available. This means that an individual does not need a court order in order to view these details about you.
Most commonly, routine background checks conducted by organizations that you may be attempting to engage with will have access to the details of your DWI, which is why you may have an interest in trying to remove it from your record.
In particular, the most common entities that complete background investigations, and therefore, may view your DWI history, include landlords or other agents who are leasing property to you, potential employers, particularly if you are applying for a job that works with children or the disabled, lenders when you are seeking a loan or other financial option and the admissions department of universities and colleges if you are seeking education. You may also have a background check requested if you are applying to do volunteer work at a non-profit or are seeking licensing with a professional body.
When You Can Expunge A DWI From Your Record
Expungement is the more formal term for the process of erasing a criminal charge from your personal record. In Virginia, whether or not you are eligible to expunge a DWI charge depends on a few very stringent factors.
First and foremost, if you were convicted of a DWI, or if you plead guilty, you are not eligible to have the charge expunged. However, it is possible to be charged with a DWI (and have it added to your record, accordingly) but not convicted. In these situations, you may have some leverage to have the charge removed.
If the DWI charges were dropped when you attended court, or if the case was dismissed for a variety of potential reasons, you may pursue expungement. Similarly, if you were found not guilty of driving while intoxicated, you can request that the DWI be expunged from your record. Many individuals choose to work with a legal professional to ensure that their request for expungement is suitable to have the highest chance of success possible in their case.
Does The Timing Matter?
In some states, after enough time has passed since the DWI conviction, you may request that the charge be removed from your record. Unfortunately, in Virginia, a DWI does not become eligible for removal simply due to the passage of time; thus, it will remain on your record forever or until it is expunged in one of the scenarios mentioned previously.
If you are successful in having it removed, it will no longer be visible during routine public background checks. However, it is important to remember that it does not cease to exist, and a court order to access your information may still show the DWI in your history.
Work With Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with a DWI, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after the incident. Having a DWI charge removed from your record requires very specific standards; working with an attorney can make it more likely to achieve a favorable outcome.
The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to assist you in having your DWI charges dropped or dismissed if possible, providing the opportunity to have the DWI removed from your record. Contact our offices to schedule a consultation.