How to Obtain a Pardon For DUI

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If you’ve been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or another controlled substance, it may be possible to obtain a pardon for DUI. The purpose of a pardon is to restore all rights and privileges that were lost as a result of a felony conviction, though it will not automatically restore any certificate or license that was lost as a result of the conviction. If your driver’s license was permanently revoked as a result of a DUI conviction, for example, you’ll have to reapply for a license upon receiving a pardon.Application ProcessThe type of application you will need to use to obtain a pardon depends on the laws of your jurisdiction. Some factors that may affect your ability to obtain a pardon for DUI include whether the conviction was a misdemeanor or felony conviction, and whether you can provide evidence to the court of your rehabilitation. That is, you must show the court that you are not likely to commit the offense again. This can be far more difficult if you’ve had multiple DUI convictions.Felony CasesIn general, a pardon is reserved for felony cases. If your DUI conviction resulted in serious damage to life or property, seeking an executive pardon directly from the governor of the state where you served your sentence may be necessary. There are two routes for obtaining a pardon for DUI. These are a Certificate of Rehabilitation, or a direct pardon application.Evidence of RehabilitationIn most jurisdictions, people with felony convictions who have shown evidence of significant rehabilitation can go before the court to request this certificate. If the trial court (usually a state superior court) issues the certificate, it will recommend that the governor pardon the offense. Ultimately, the decision rests with the governor.Expungement of DUI ConvictionsBefore seeking to obtain a pardon for DUI, you may want to explore the possibility of expungement, which not only restores rights and privileges but actually removes a DUI conviction from your public criminal record. This is important for future employability and a variety of other reasons. Expunging a criminal record means erases the criminal conviction, as though it never happened.Effects of ExpungementDepending on the laws of a particular jurisdiction, obtaining a pardon can also be the first step toward expunging a criminal record. However, for jurisdictions with liberal expungement laws, it may be best to explore this option first. After a criminal record is expunged, it can only be used in certain limited circumstances, such as applying for certain kinds of public or government offices or jobs, or to determine sentencing guidelines for future offenses.Requirements for ExpungementRequirements for expunging a DUI conviction also vary from one jurisdiction to the next, but in general, you must meet certain conditions. First, a certain amount of time must have passed from the conviction; most often this is a 5-year time period. Second, many jurisdictions will only consider expunging a criminal record with only a single conviction. This may vary, and may also depend on whether the crimes were prosecuted as juvenile or adult offenses. Finally, felonies punishable by life imprisonment cannot be expunged from a criminal record.Why Pursue a Pardon for DUI?Even if it’s been a long time since your DUI conviction, and even if it seems completely irrelevant to a particular job or other type of application, employers, landlords, finance companies, and others might still be unwilling to hire you, rent to you, or do business with you based on an old DUI conviction. If a few years have passed and you know that you will not re-offend, it is worthwhile to consider obtaining a pardon for DUI or expungement of your criminal record.