Can A DWI Be Expunged In Missouri?
Let’s face it—we all made mistakes when we were younger.
Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have, or wore an awful outfit. Perhaps your original college major was supposed to be something else, or you quit college halfway through. Maybe you shouldn’t have married so young, or not at all, and waited for true love.
Or maybe you shouldn’t have decided to drive that night, because you wouldn’t have been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated.
Does It Last Forever?
A DWI conviction will, under normal circumstances, stay on your driving and criminal record.
Typically, criminal records are public records, and anyone doing a background check will discover it. With a DWI, you may have a difficult time finding employment, housing, as well as loans and similar financial services. If you’re planning to attend college, a DWI may potentially inhibit admissions as well as student financial aid.
If you’ve had just one DWI, and it was a long time ago, it won’t “fall off” your record, but it could be expunged, or removed.
Charges vs. Convictions
It’s important to note that there’s a difference between a charge and a conviction.
A charge is what happens when you’re arrested, and may be dropped before trial. A conviction comes after a court case and a successful prosecution (and an unsuccessful defense.) A successful defense may result in acquittal. See our blog on three things you must know if you’re charged with DWI in Missouri.
DWI Expungement In Missouri
The process is available to anyone who has been charged with DWI and convicted, but only on the first. You qualify if:
- You have only one DWI, you pled “guilty,” and it is more than 10 years old
- Your DWI charge was a misdemeanor, not a felony
- Your charge/conviction was also not related to “intoxication-related boating offenses”
- You have not had any alcohol-related offenses since (i.e., “open-container” violations, providing alcohol to minors, etc.)
- Have not acquired a CDL (commercial driver’s license) in the interim.
You can petition the court for an expungement, and if a judge agrees, you’ll be granted an order, which seals your court records.
Advantages Of Expungement
As bad as it is to have a DWI associated with your name, there are distinct advantages to going through the process of expungement:
- If it is the only criminal charge/conviction you have, you will no
longer have a record.
- Your conviction will also be removed from CaseNET, the automated public court records system in Missouri that allows anyone to do a public records search online.
- If you’re arrested again for DWI after the expungement, the second one
will show as your first arrest.
- Note that this only works once—you may not be able to expunge any subsequent DWI arrests/convictions.
- You will no longer have to answer “yes” to the question of ”have you ever been arrested/convicted/had a DWI?” (This will depend on the how the question is phrased.)
- You will no longer be limited in employment, education, housing, or financial services
- A DWI can impact your international travel. Some countries, like Canada, do not allow visitors who have pleaded guilty to DWI. Without a DWI conviction, you will be able to travel without this restriction.
Note that the expungement will only apply to a criminal record, not your driving record. If you have a DWI on your driving record, that’s a civil charge and not a criminal one, and may limit you if you drive large trucks or other commercial vehicles.
Want To Be Free Of DWI?
If you have an old DWI charge in your past, call Grant Shostak for a free consultation at (314) 380-3059, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re eligible for expungement, he will work with you to close out that part of your life.
Want to learn more about DWI before your appointment? Check out our free e-book, the Missouri DWI Survival Guide, to find out what you can expect with a DWI, as well as how we can help you with it.