Do DUIs in Washington Go Away?
If you got arrested and charged with a DUI, you might think it is a simple everyday charge that won’t have a long-lasting effect on you or your driving record. Unfortunately, if you live in the state of Washington - that’s simply not true. Here, DUI convictions never go away. The law says that a DUI conviction must stay on your record for 99 years in Washington State. It cannot be expunged, vacated, or sealed. For the rest of your life - it is on your permanent record. This can have many adverse consequences.
If you are thinking of traveling to Canada, getting a DUI will absolutely affect your ability to travel to Canada. Washington is also a member of the NEXUS program (a program allowing you to cross the Canadian border without waiting in line). However, if Washington considers your Washington DUI conviction(s) then you won’t qualify for membership in the NEXUS program.
Washington’s refusal to remove Washington DUI convictions from their records can have other consequences too, such as being refused entrance into the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as higher long-term insurance premiums.
Can Anyone Access my DUI History?
While you’re stuck with a DUI on your record, not just anyone can access this information forever. State law places limits on how long your DUI conviction will appear on background checks. Washington law and federal law only allow DUI information on background checks after a period of seven years.
Employers can, however, ask about prior convictions. The America Civil Liberty Union’s Guide to Criminal Records and Employment in Washington State states that employers can only ask about convictions if they occurred in the last 10 years and if they’re related to the job.
For example, if you apply to deliver food for a company, they will want to know about any prior DUI convictions.
Washington Has Harsh DUI Penalties and Laws
Washington State has cracked down on drunk driving in recent years, and almost every weekend police set up checkpoints to catch drunk drivers. The result has been an increase in arrests, prosecutions, and convictions for Driving While Intoxicated. Unfortunately, many people arrested for DUI are guilty of driving intoxicated. However, that does not mean that you need to have a DUI conviction on your record. With the right defense attorney, you might be able to have the charges reduced or even dismissed, especially if you are a first-time offender.
Washington State has extremely harsh penalties for Driving While Intoxicated. Those penalties range from no jail time (first offense) to five days (second offense within seven years). Washington has a very high per se Washington DUI blood level of .08% or greater, which means that Washington is supposedly the only state in the USA where prosecutors don’t need any evidence of impairment, as long as you test at .08% BAC+.
Washington also has mandatory minimum sentences (including jail time) for most DUI offenses. And if you have two prior DUIs, then Washington will seek enhanced penalties against you even if neither previous DUI was charged as an aggravated Washington DUI offense.
For these reasons, Washington has earned the title of having some of the harshest DUI laws in the USA. Washington’s Washington DUI penalties are so harsh that Washington State is ranked 15th out of fifty states for having the harshest Washington DUI laws.
So how do you clean your record?
You can petition for an expungement or a pardon, both of which will seal your record, but this option is only available to certain people under very limited circumstances – usually after waiting many years after completion of probation without any further criminal activity.
The best way to keep your Washington criminal conviction off your record for good is to find a Washington criminal defense attorney that can defend you successfully. This would make the DUI not even exist in the first place! At the very least, your attorney may be able to convince the Washington court that your Washington DUI should be amended back down to a non-Washington DUI offense.
Remember, even if you are guilty of driving intoxicated, that does not mean that you need to have a DUI conviction on your record. With the right defense attorney, you might be able to have the charges reduced or even dismissed, especially if you are a first-time offender.
Contact Our Seattle DUI Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with a DUI in the city of Seattle, give us a call. The Seattle criminal defense attorneys at Lewis & Laws have defended thousands of individuals who have been charged with a variety of DUI crimes. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form. We can protect your future - call us today!