A DUI conviction, be it a misdemeanor or a felony, goes onto the convicted person’s driving record and criminal record. The length of time that this item stays on the driver’s record is varied by each state. Typically, the item stays on the driver’s record for seven years. Some states have ten years, and some state require having it on the record “forever”. Certainly your attorney can tell you what your state’s duration is. A person’s criminal record is a different thing altogether. In most states the conviction never comes off your criminal record. To have the conviction “come off” the person’s record, there are a number of “depends” in it, as well as a number of “who can see what when” after the removal of the conviction, or expunging, as it is legally called. The facts of matter are that the conviction does not totally go away. The fact is that the conviction is hidden and available to a select, restricted group of seekers. After the state’s minimum length of time for having a conviction expunged is exceeded, the person with the record must file an appeal for removal. In some states, it is the state governor who must rule on the appeal. If the appeal is granted, then the conviction records are recalled from whoever had or has a copy, or are required to destroy the copy owned and show evidence back to the central repository that the record was destroyed. In this way only the central repository has a copy of the record. The record is now categorized such that it will not be revealed to anyone under any circumstances unless the group inquiring has the right to conduct what is called a “hard” inquiry. This type of inquiry requires that even an expunged conviction must be revealed. Usually only specific Federal agencies, and now banks and financial institutions have this right or are mandated by the Patriot Act to do a “hard” inquiry. The person with the conviction must tell such agencies about a conviction if asked. It is unclear how a person would ever know that the entity making the verbal inquiry has the right or mandate to explore convictions. Being unclear, how does a person safely find out if the entity to which the person is making application has “hard inquiry” access? The reasons for making this point is that a person who has his or her conviction expunged can legally and rightfully state in an interview or on an application that the applicant has had no convictions. These inquirers can only do a “soft inquiry” and will not get a hit on an expunged conviction.
If any entity that has a copy of the conviction, and fails to return the copy to the central repository, or fails to destroy the copy as attested to by the objective evidence given the central repository, is subject to lawsuit by the person whose conviction was not totally expunged as expected. The law works to the rights of both person and the legal system.