If you are charged with a DUI, you probably have many questions about the penalties and how a DUI conviction can impact your future.
Illinois takes DUI charges seriously. Potential penalties can include fines, jail time and the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.
Additionally, a DUI conviction can affect your professional and personal lives. You could lose your job or a professional license. Your reputation among family and friends might be forever tarnished.
Therefore, you likely want to know if a DUI conviction will stay on your record forever. Unfortunately, Illinois law does not allow you to expunge or seal a DUI from your record once you are convicted.
The only way to prevent a DUI charge from showing up on a criminal record is if you are tried and found not guilty or the prosecutor dismisses your case. If you are arrested for DUI but not ultimately charged, your record will also remain clear.
If you meet one of these conditions, you can potentially erase the incidents related to the DUI from your record through expungement or sealing.
Expungement and sealing
Expungement completely removes everything involving the incident from your record, as if it never happened. The specific circumstances of your situation will determine if you qualify for expungement.
If you do not qualify for expungement, you might qualify for having your record sealed. This means your criminal history is only available to law enforcement, government agencies and a few other entities. It will not be available to the general public or employers.
Only certain crimes can be sealed. Additionally, you must wait at least three years after finishing your last sentence, if you were convicted, before petitioning for record sealing.
Both expungement and sealing involve filing a petition with the court. After that, there is a waiting period to allow the police, prosecution or other agencies to object. You will likely be scheduled for a hearing if there is an objection and be given a chance to explain your situation and reasons for wanting the expungement or sealing.
Again, expungement and sealing are only available if you were not convicted of the DUI charge.
Once you are convicted, the only way to remove a DUI from your criminal record is to request a pardon from the governor. A pardon overturns your conviction and removes it from your record.
Getting a pardon is extremely difficult, as they are rarely granted. However, if you are pardoned, your situation is treated as if the crime was never committed. Therefore, you are not subject to restrictions such as parole or registration requirements. You can also honestly say no when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime.
Your legal options depend on the exact nature of your situation. Exploring them is worth it, considering the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction.