Most people who are charged with DUIs are good people just out having a drink and assuming because he or she feels fine, then he or she is fine to drive. Unfortunately, "feeling fine" does not always mean you are legally able to drive. If your blood alcohol content is above .08%, then you are legally intoxicated. The consequences of a DUI can prove devastating. It's not necessarily the penalties associated with a conviction, but the arrest and criminal records and the stigma associated with them that matter most. For Wisconsin Democrat, Randy Bryce, he found out just what this means.
CNN reported Bryce was arrested for drunk driving in 1998. Bryce issued a public apology, calling his behavior “dumb” and “inexcusable.” Because Bryce has built a national following and strong fundraising base in Wisconsin in an effort to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republicans began digging in and uncovering more. After his license was suspended in 1998, Bryce was arrested three more times for driving with a suspended license and registration. CNN also reported Bryce was arrested for marijuana possession, property damage, trespassing, and theft in 1991. Although some of the charges were dropped and he did not serve time, they remain a part of Bryce's arrest and criminal records.
Expunging Your Criminal Record in Washington State
Criminal charges are just the first step in a long and grueling legal process where your personal and professional reputation will be put on trial, perhaps even publicized and criticized. If you are charged with a DUI, marijuana possession, or a property crime in Washington and the charges are not dropped or expunged, they could follow you for life. The process of expungement in Washington state is known as vacating, and it is the only option for clearing your name if you are convicted. There are different criteria for expungement of juvenile criminal records and adult criminal records.
As an adult, if you have been convicted of a criminal misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, you can have the conviction vacated if any of the following apply:
- You have completed the terms of your sentence, including financial obligations.
- Three years have passed since the completion of those terms.
- You have no criminal charges pending or you have not been convicted of another crime.
- You do not have a different conviction vacated.
- You have not been restrained by a domestic violence protection order, a no-contact order, or other court order.
You should be able to have your conviction vacated if you meet these requirements. However, there are other factors that may prevent you from vacating a criminal conviction. For instance, if the offense was a DUI or DUI-related offense. This is why it is critical for you to hire a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible after you are charged so you can have the best chance of having the charges dropped and avoiding a DUI or DUI-related conviction.
Bryce stated in his public apology: “I was immature and made a horrible, thoughtless decision.” You may feel the same about mistakes and actions you have taken in the past, but if those mistakes lead to criminal charges, the best way to avoid having to settle for vacating records is to not have a conviction entered in the first place. However, if you were convicted, and those records have been coming up in background checks as you apply for jobs, housing, or other licenses, you can take steps to prevent old charges from inhibiting your ability to live. If you have been charged with a crime, or have been convicted, and you need legal assistance, contact Steve Karimi today.