Millions of Californians With DUIs May Have Less Than 30 Days To Expunge Their Record

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Changes in California law which take affect in 2008 may leave millions of Californian's convicted of driving under the influence stuck with a criminal record for life. With 80 percent of employers performing background checks on applicants, the consequences can be as costly as they are long lasting.

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

There are less than 30 days left for the millions of Californians who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) 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 conviction dismissed go into affect on January 1, 2008. These changes may leave those convicted of DUI, reckless driving, and driving on a suspended license with a misdemeanor or felony conviction for life.

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 of 2007, 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 record expungement 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," 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 misdemeanor or felony 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.

"Millions of Californians may be stuck for life with misdemeanor or felony convictions expunge a DUI or reckless driving conviction before January 1st of 2008," says Higbee. "Not only does a DUI hinder one's job prospects, it makes travel difficult. Canada will deny entry to those convicted of DUI."

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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