Can a DUI Conviction be Expunged in Arizona?
Mandatory jail time, fines, ignition interlocks and license loss are direct effects of a DUI. There are many indirect effects as well, such as increased insurance rates and the inability to rent a car. One of the most severe indirect effects, however, is having a permanent criminal record. In Arizona, there are two records that you have to be concerned with: Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division (ADOT/MVD) and the Supreme Court. Let’s look at them, individually:
ADOT/MVD is your driving record. It will contain everything about your driving history, but not non-traffic/non-license criminal offenses. For example, a DUI conviction is a criminal traffic offense, so it will appear. A shoplifting conviction is a criminal non-traffic offense, so it will not appear. Failure to stop for a red light is not a criminal traffic citation, it is a civil traffic citation and it will appear on your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) if you are found responsible.
Attempting to use a false driver’s license to enter a bar, if you are underage, is not a driving offense, but it is an offense that will appear on your MVR.
To check your MVR, you can go to www.servicearizona.com and follow the steps. There is a small fee each time you check it. In order to check it, you will need some personal information and you will have to agree that, under penalty of law, you are the person listed in the record. Your MVR can only be viewed for the past 36 months. If your license is suspended pursuant to the Arizona Administrative Per Se laws due to taking a test and being over the prohibited alcohol limit, your record will be expunged of the suspension if you win the criminal portion of the DUI case.
As far as your criminal record is concerned, anyone who knows your name can check your criminal record online at www.supremecourt.az.gov/publicaccess which is the Arizona Supreme Court website. If that person knows your month and year of birth, that makes it even easier to find you.
A criminal record can never be expunged in Arizona, which is why it is very important to win a DUI case. The effects are forever.
Some attorneys have been known to advertise “expungement” and claim that they can wipe your criminal record clean. That’s false in Arizona. The best that anyone can do is to file a “Motion to Set Aside Conviction” with the court and hope that a judge grants it. A set-aside (see below) does not wipe away the conviction, it merely restores any rights lost or disabilities imposed due to the conviction. In felony matter, this may help someone convicted of a crime to get a job because an employer might look more favorably upon the job applicant. In a misdemeanor, it does nothing at all. In a nutshell, if you are convicted of any felony or misdemeanor DUI in the State of Arizona, your record will reflect that conviction forever, wether or not it is set-aside.
Arizona Revised Statute §13-907. Setting aside judgment of convicted person on discharge; application; release from disabilities; exceptions
A. Except as provided in subsection D of this section, every person convicted of a criminal offense, on fulfillment of the conditions of probation or sentence and discharge by the court, may apply to the judge, justice of the peace or magistrate who pronounced sentence or imposed probation or such judge, justice of the peace or magistrate’s successor in office to have the judgment of guilt set aside. The convicted person shall be informed of this right at the time of discharge.
B. The convicted person or, if authorized in writing, the convicted person’s attorney or probation officer may apply to set aside the judgment.
C. If the judge, justice of the peace or magistrate grants the application, the judge, justice of the peace or magistrate shall set aside the judgment of guilt, dismiss the accusations or information and order that the person be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction except those imposed by:
1. The department of transportation pursuant to section 28-3304, 28-3306, 28-3307, 28-3308 or 28-3319, except that the conviction may be used as a conviction if the conviction would be admissible had it not been set aside and may be pleaded and proved in any subsequent prosecution of such person by the state or any of its subdivisions for any offense or used by the department of transportation in enforcing section 28-3304, 28-3306, 28-3307, 28-3308 or 28-3319 as if the judgment of guilt had not been set aside.
2. The game and fish commission pursuant to section 17-314 or 17-340.
D. This section does not apply to a person who was convicted of a criminal offense:
1. Involving a dangerous offense.
2. For which the person is required or ordered by the court to register pursuant to section 13-3821.
3. For which there has been a finding of sexual motivation pursuant to section 13-118.
4. In which the victim is a minor under fifteen years of age.
5. In violation of section 28-3473, any local ordinance relating to stopping, standing or operation of a vehicle or title 28, chapter 3, except a violation of section 28-693 or any local ordinance relating to the same subject matter as section 28-693.