A conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) can follow you for the rest of your life. In addition to the potential for jail time, a conviction could also make it difficult for you to hold down a job or find suitable housing. If you’re asking can a DWI conviction be expunged in Minnesota, the good news is that some misdemeanor DWI convictions may be expunged according to Minnesota law.
While you might have the right to pursue expungement, success is not guaranteed. That said, putting your case in the hands of an experienced attorney could result in your best opportunity to obtain an expungement. To learn more about your options, contact the attorneys of Gerald Miller right away.
Expunging DWI Convictions
It is possible to obtain an expungement for misdemeanor DWI convictions. For a fourth-degree DWI, you can seek expungement beginning two years from the date the sentence is discharged. Second- and third-degree DWI convictions are considered gross misdemeanors, meaning you must wait four years from the date the sentence is discharged to pursue expungement. While there is a hard time limit related to filing the petition, you can speak with an attorney before that deadline is met. This could allow you to move forward with an expungement petition the moment you qualify.
First-degree DWI is a felony in Minnesota. Under current state law, it is impossible to expunge a felony DWI under any circumstances. With that in mind, your best bet is to avoid a conviction entirely.
It is important to remember that while expungement might be possible, there is guarantee that the judge in your case will grant one. Some courts are reluctant to expunge DWI offenses compared to other misdemeanors. Because of this, it is vital to make the strongest case for expungement possible in your petition. If the court does not find your reasoning compelling, they might not agree to an expungement even if you otherwise qualify. Your legal counsel can help ensure you make the strongest case possible.
Factors the Court Must Weigh on Expungement
If you’re asking can a DWI conviction be expunged in Minnesota, you should know that ultimately, the presiding judge will make the decision of whether or not to expunge a DWI conviction. However, state law provides substantial guidance on how the court should come to that decision. According to Minnesota Statute Section 609A.03, the court should grant expungement unless agency or jurisdiction whose records would be affected establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the interests of the public and public safety outweigh the disadvantages to the petitioner of not sealing the record. When the court makes this decision, they will weigh the following twelve factors:
- the nature and severity of the underlying crime, the record of which would be sealed;
- the risk, if any, the petitioner poses to individuals or society;
- the length of time since the crime occurred;
- the steps taken by the petitioner toward rehabilitation following the crime;
- aggravating or mitigating factors relating to the underlying crime, including the petitioner’s level of participation and context and circumstances of the underlying crime;
- the reasons for the expungement, including the petitioner’s attempts to obtain employment, housing, or other necessities;
- the petitioner’s criminal record;
- the petitioner’s record of employment and community involvement;
- the recommendations of interested law enforcement, prosecutorial, and corrections officials;
- the recommendations of victims or whether victims of the underlying crime were minors;
- the amount, if any, of restitution outstanding, past efforts made by the petitioner toward payment, and the measures in place to help ensure completion of restitution payment after expungement of the record if granted; and
- other factors deemed relevant by the court.
Talk to an Attorney About DWI Expungement
Some individuals convicted of DWI in Minnesota have had success with expunging their convictions. Unfortunately, this is limited to misdemeanor cases. Even with a misdemeanor, there is no guarantee that the court will grant your petition.
Avoiding the consequences of a DWI conviction is easiest by avoiding a conviction in the first place. Many DWI cases are defensible. If you feel pressure to plead guilty following an arrest, you could benefit from speaking with an attorney first. If you are facing DWI charges in Minnesota, the attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to help. Call right away to schedule your free consultation.