Some Illinois residents can have their criminal records sealed and effectively erased. For those arrested or convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this means that a DWI expungement might be possible. The question many people ask is what that actually means.
Primarily, it means that the individual who obtained the expungement is not required to divulge that the arrest or conviction took place. This could help with filling out job applications or any other application that requires the disclosure of a criminal record. For example, someone applying for a job that requires driving would not need to list a DWI on the application.
However, criminal courts, some government agencies and law enforcement agencies might still be able to access the records. For instance, if an individual is convicted of a crime after the expungement, the records could play a role in sentencing. In deportation or immigration proceedings, the records would still be available as well.
Many people confuse expungement with their records being sealed. If a criminal record is only sealed, employers, creditors and the public would not have access to it, but it could still be used as evidence of a prior offense in a subsequent criminal proceeding instead of merely influencing sentencing. If possible, it would be better to receive an expungement.
An Illinois resident who is curious about a DWI expungement should contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss the matter. After reviewing the facts of the case and discussing the requirements, he or she can advise the individual as to whether an expungement is possible. If it is, the attorney can represent him or her throughout the process in order to ensure the best possible chance of obtaining it.
Source: FindLaw, “Expungement Basics“, Accessed on Dec. 29, 2016