Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a grave offense in every state in the US, and New York enforces very harsh laws pertaining to intoxicated driving. In New York, these offenses are prosecuted as driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving while ability impaired (DWAI). “DUI” and “DWI” are essentially interchangeable terms, and DWAI can apply when an individual has not exceeded the typical blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold required for a DWI conviction but tests positive for drugs that inhibit their ability to drive safely.
While many US states offer expungement options to qualifying individuals, there is no expungement option available for DWI offenses in New York. If you are convicted of DWI or DWAI in New York, there is no way to have the conviction removed from your record unless the case is dismissed or you are acquitted of the charge. Once convicted, the DWI or DWAI will remain on your record for 15 years. While there is no expungement mechanism for DWI offenses in New York, it is possible to have a criminal conviction sealed under certain conditions.
As of October 7, 2017, it is possible to have the record of a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony sealed. The offense in question must be at least 10 years old. The individual applying for sealing their criminal record must also meet other criteria specified by the court and tailored to their circumstances. The party who wants to have their record sealed must file a motion for sealing the record in court. The prosecutor involved in their case has the right to contest this motion. For example, the prosecutor may argue that sealing the record would create an opportunity for the defendant to commit another similar offense and avoid the appropriate penalty or that sealing the record would work against the interests of public safety.
Record sealing can potentially protect an individual from the long-term stigma that typically follows conviction for DWI or DWAI. In addition to the penalties assigned by the court, the individual with this type of criminal record would likely have trouble securing employment or finding housing in certain areas. They would probably face a wide range of additional consequences in their personal and professional lives. Record sealing could potentially act as a fresh start for an individual in this position, allowing them to escape the stigma of their prior conviction.
Technically, an individual can file a motion for sealing the record of their DWI conviction as long as they meet the relevant criteria. However, doing so is quite difficult, and facing a prosecutor on your own in a sealing hearing can be incredibly daunting. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney significantly increases your chances of success with your sealing motion. In addition, you can rely on your attorney to provide ongoing support and guidance during your sealing proceedings.
Your attorney can help you draft a compelling motion for sealing your record. Your attorney may help you cite all the ways in which your conviction record adversely affects your life, such as preventing you from working in your desired field. They may also help you gather evidence proving you have rectified your behavior and atoned for your prior offense, such as completing substance abuse treatment programs, consistent participation in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and similar programs. Ultimately, if you petition for sealing your DWI record, you must prove that doing so does not endanger public safety and that the record of your conviction has an unnecessarily harsh impact on your personal and professional life.
The only way to remove a DWI conviction from your record in New York is to petition for sealing the record 10 years after the conviction. You must complete all associated penalties and cannot have committed any other crimes within the past 10 years. You would complete and submit a petition for sealing the record in question, and the prosecution would have the right to contest the petition.
DWI conviction will remain on your record for 15 years unless you complete the petition for sealing the record after 10 years. If you are convicted for DWAI, the record will last 10 years. Remember that the offense in question must be either a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony. If you were convicted of vehicular manslaughter or any other violent offense, you would not qualify to have the record sealed.
If you intend to have your criminal record sealed or expunged, the process can be costly. There is no free mechanism for sealing or expunging criminal records, and most individuals who undergo these processes will need to pay legal fees to an attorney who can guide them through their cases.
While it is technically possible to successfully have your DWI record sealed by filing a motion for sealing on your own, it is much easier and more likely to succeed when you have an experienced defense attorney helping you. Your attorney can help you create a more compelling petition, significantly increasing your chance of success with your motion.
A DWI record can interfere with a person’s life in many ways, and record sealing is a complex but important legal mechanism that everyone with a DWI record in New York should understand. Attorney Michael Vitaliano has years of experience providing robust criminal defense representation to clients in New York. The Vitaliano Law Firm can provide the representation you need to successfully have your record sealed as quickly as possible. If you are interested in filing a motion for record sealing in New York, contact the Vitaliano Law Firm today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the legal services.