Being charged with impaired driving in Ohio is a very serious legal matter that can result in significant penalties when the case goes to court. Even a first offense conviction can result in jail time and a fine of up to $250. In addition, there are associated fees for alcoholic driver education and driving privilege reinstatement. And, even as bad as the immediate aftermath can be, the conviction record then stays on the defendant’s driving record for the remainder of their life. This is possibly the most stringent of all punishments stemming from a DUI/OVI conviction.
What is expungement?
One of the first steps an Ohio DUI/OVI attorney may want to take after a case is settled is petitioning the court for expunging the record. Expungement is actually the process of sealing the record from public view. While some states have a detailed process for removing a criminal conviction, the state of Ohio only allows first-offense convictions to be sealed from public record.
The DUI/OVI exception
Ohio statutes allow for expungement only of a conviction on a first offense of any criminal act ranging from theft to virtually any other type of criminal activity. However, the state legislature did write an exception for expunging records into the code, and that exception is for a DUI/OVI conviction. The charge is filed as a misdemeanor unless in case of a fourth offense in 10 years or a six offense in 20 years.
While driver abstracts can be ordered sealed well before the lookback period ends, the actual record of the conviction cannot. Sealing the driver abstract keeps insurance companies from seeing the record after three years, which helps keep insurance rates lower for Ohio drivers. This potential alone is a good reason to pursue an expungement in a DUI/OVI case whenever possible.