Changes to California's Expungement Law May Brand for Life Those Convicted of DUI

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Changes to California's expungement law will soon take away the right to expunge a criminal conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) and other driving related convictions. With more than 80 percent of employers doing criminal background checks, finding jobs may get more difficult for the approximately 150,000 people who get convicted for DUI each year. Those with DUI convictions on their record have just two months to expunge their conviction.

I did not want this mistake to follow me and float over my head like a rain cloud, for the rest of my life. Being able to answer

Millions of Californians who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) have just two more months to exercise their right to have their conviction expunged from their permanent criminal record.    Changes to the California law that gives those who successfully complete probation a right to have their criminal convicted dismissed go into affect on January 1, 2008.

While violations on a person's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) record disappear in time, the criminal conviction stays on a person's record for life -- unless it is expunged.

California Assembly Bill 645, which was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in July, modifies existing law to require those convicted for violating specified vehicle codes to prove to a judge that it is "in the interest of justice to have the conviction expunged."    Other common offenses on the specified list are reckless driving and driving on a suspended license.

"This will make it much more difficult and costly for people to get convictions off of the record," says attorney Mathew K. Higbee, whose law firm, RecordGone.com specializes in criminal record expungement

"Those convicted of DUI and the other offenses may have to go through life disclosing that they have a criminal conviction unless they begin the process to expunge their conviction before the new law takes affect in January," says Higbee.

"There are a number of people that are aware of the importance of starting to expunge their record, but that number pales in comparison to the number of people who may be stuck with a criminal record for life if they do not apply to expunge a DUI or reckless driving conviction before January 1st of 2008," says Higbee.

In a post 9-11 economy, where more than 80 percent of employers perform criminal background checks on job applicants, a person's ability to earn a living may depend on their ability to get a criminal conviction expunged. Higbee says RecordGone.com has seen an increase in the number of people with DUI convictions begin the process of expunging their record.

Mr. M. Sangha of Palm Desert recently had his DUI conviction expunged. "I did not want this mistake to follow me and float over my head like a rain cloud, for the rest of my life. Being able to answer "No" on the application asking if I have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor will truly up my chances of obtaining worthy employment in the future, as well as a boost in my morale," said Sangha.

According to DMV figures, approximately 160,000 people are convicted for DUI or reckless driving each year.

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Mathew K. Higbee
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