Until December 2012, it was not possible to erase the record of having had a DWI conviction in this state. Erasing a record is called expungement. For most people, if they are convicted of DWI, the conviction remains on your driving license and on your criminal history record which is kept in a number of different locations. This does make it very difficult to apply for certain jobs as there may be a requirement to have a clean record or at least to have a record without a DWI offense.
Many companies do this, especially if the job involves driving or using heavy machinery, because if there is an accident it means that the company is more liable in the event of a personal injury claim.
Even if you are not applying for a driving job which needs a commercial driving license, there are also jobs that require you to confirm whether you have a criminal record. There is no point in lying about it. A DWI conviction is a criminal conviction and most people who are convicted have to live with the consequences. Some employers will submit your name to a criminal record check when they check your background, so the DWI conviction will show up then. This doesn’t always mean that you will lose the opportunity to be employed, but if there is competition for the job and you are the only one with a previous criminal record, then you are obviously in a more unfavorable position.
Unfortunately, for those people who are not habitual criminals or alcoholics and who are convicted for DWI through a single error of judgment, the conviction has been a permanent mark against them. The law was changed in North Carolina in December 2012 to allow expungement of a DWI record in certain exacting circumstances. Part of the reason for the change is the sheer number of DWI charges which have grown through increased law enforcement and the gradual lowering of the maximum legal limit for blood alcohol content, presently 0.08% for adults and only 0.04% for those who hold a commercial driver license.
If you were convicted of DWI more than 15 years ago and you have not had any other criminal conviction, then you might be able to apply for an expungement. Minor traffic offenses such as parking tickets and speeding tickets do not count. Applying for expungement is easier said than done, because the record of your DWI will be held by more than one authority. There will be a record kept by the courthouse, the state Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the state Bureau of Investigation and the FBI! That’s quite a list and each expungement has to be done separately.
When you apply for an expungement, you will also need two affidavits from people who know you but who are not related to you to vouch for your good character and moral fitness. You will also need to gain consent from the District Attorney’s Office in the jurisdiction where your conviction took place.
When the expungement is approved, it means that all traces of your DWI conviction and criminal record are totally erased and / or sealed. Another benefit of expungement is that if you are asked whether you have been charged or convicted of a criminal offense in the future, you are legally able to say “No” without committing perjury.