DUI: Can I have my record "sealed"?

Question: I am very embarrassed that I was arrested for DUI. I don't want anyone to find out. It will not happen again. I really don't drink at all; maybe just 3 times a year. But I got into my car and drove home when I should not have and I got stopped by a Forsyth County deputy sheriff. I told the sheriff everything because I'm an honest person. I told him that I had wine at a friend's house when we were having bible study. I said I had 3 big glasses of white wine and I didn't think I was drunk driving.

But I was arrested and nobody was hurt, so it could have been worse. I'm a religious person and I attend church regularly. I am very upset that my family and other church members will find out that I was arrested for a DUI. I could actually get kicked out of the church. I haven't even told my husband about it because he was away on business when it happened. I don't think he'll divorce me for a DUI, but I'm scared because I can't be sure.

I am trying to find out if there is any way that my criminal record can be sealed or expunged. I think that might stop people from finding out about what happened. So I need to learn more about record sealing.

S.L. in Gainesville.

Answer: Many people ask if their "record" can be sealed so a DUI arrest and/or conviction cannot be found. Unfortunately, a DUI arrest cannot be prevented from appearing on your record. Many people are worried about the ramifications of a DUI arrest and conviction. People are concerned about what family, friends and neighbors will think. And they are worried about their job and employment prospects.

The fact of the matter is that a DUI conviction stays on a person's record; it does not "fall off," as some people think. Whether an employer actually discovers it is another question. We have seen some employee background checks totally miss DUI (and other) convictions. The same is also true for prosecutors. While prosecutors are certainly able to access a defendant's criminal record, sometimes arrests and convictions are overlooked.

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