Many people are completely unaware that they can expunge any record of a 10-year-old first time DWI. Most people assume that a DWI that old will not negatively affect them or assume that there is nothing to be done.
A DWI that is 10 years old or older can be expunged regardless of whether the first DWI resulted in a conviction or not. Section 577.054 R.S.Mo. dictates that a person with one prior DWI can have all records of that DWI expunged. To receive the expungement one has to file a Petition in the same Court that the original plea or finding of guilt was made.
The effect of such expungement, in the words of the law, “shall be to restore such person to the status he or she occupied prior to such arrest, plea or conviction as if such had never taken place.” This means not only the Court records would be expunged but the administrative records (such as your driving record) would also be cleared.
As I tell clients, the expungement gives a person the chance to reclaim their DWI virginity.
The most important aspect to the law is that the person petitioning for expungement cannot have “an alcohol-related enforcement action pending at the time of the hearing.” In the event there has been such a contact the expungement will not be granted by the Court.
For example, if someone has not filed for the expungement for 15 years after the first DWI and gets arrested on a new DWI, that person is no longer eligible to file for the expungement even though they went well-beyond 10 years without a second DWI. The arrest of a second DWI likely shuts the door on a potential expungement.
Reality is that every year DWI laws get tougher and a prior DWI, no matter how old, will negatively affect a second DWI. Furthermore, an expungement is even more important in the event one receives a third DWI later in life. The difference between a third DWI and a second DWI is the difference between facing a felony versus a misdemeanor.
If you have any questions regarding DWI expungement and need our assistance in exploring that option for you, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced DWI attorneys.