Washington State takes DUIs exceptionally seriously, and its laws reflect that. While getting a DUI is quite common, and many states will be forgiving in terms of allowing expungements of criminal records associated with a DUI after a certain period, this is not the case in Washington state.
DUI files and records
A DUI conviction remains on your record indefinitely. This can have a lengthy list of negative consequences, particularly for employment, traveling, immigration, finances and education. Understanding that a DUI conviction in Washington State remains on your record permanently is critical.
What is expungement?
Expungement is a legal proceeding where an individual arrested and convicted of a crime seeks to have the records of that crime sealed or destroyed, making those records unavailable to the public. Some states offer expungement as an option, but not all do. Washington does not allow the expungement of DUI convictions.
Differences between charges and conviction
Of course, a significant difference exists between a DUI charge and a DUI conviction. A trustworthy, experienced and zealous advocate can explain these differences, which can be life-changing. Many are arrested and charged with a DUI, yet not all are convicted. Many factors influence the case during the time between charge and conviction.
Expungement laws in Washington
Expungement, the destruction or elimination of the court file, is not an option in Washington state, per RCW 9.96.060 of the Rev. Code of Washington State. This law explains this rule.
While expungement may not be an option, criminal defense attorneys have legal strategies to deal with DUI cases and the process between arrest and conviction or non-conviction. It is imperative to understand the importance of zealous representation.