Can A DUI Be Erased In Arizona?


Every state has different laws on what can and cannot be removed from a criminal record. They also have different processes by which they remove crimes. Some of them leave traces, and some of them don’t. Arizona is very particular in the way they allow records to be cleaned, or at least modified, when it comes to all crimes – not just DUIs.

Most people with a DUI conviction would prefer to have it stricken from the official record entirely. Any criminal conviction can make life difficult for a person who is attempting to do anything that involves a background check, particularly as those checks pertain to certain types of employment. Many employers ask about convictions for felonies and misdemeanors, and you need to be able to provide an honest answer when you want a job. If you want to get rid of a DUI conviction, you need to understand the options you have available to you, what those options mean, and how to start the legal process.

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is the process of having a criminal conviction record entirely erased. Some states use an expungement process, but Arizona is limited in the way it applies that concept. Arizona only offers expungement of convictions to minors to erase their juvenile delinquency history. This is an option for people who were no older than 17 when they were charged with a DUI.

Unless you were under the age of 18 when you were convicted of driving under the influence, you cannot pursue full expungement of a criminal conviction. This doesn’t apply to all underage DUI convictions, as people 18 to 20 years old were still legally adults when they committed the crime. Anyone who was charged with DUI at 18 or older will need to use a different process, called “Set Aside.” This process is different and it doesn’t affect a criminal record in an identical way. But it’s far better than allowing an unchallenged DUI conviction to cloud your bright future.

What Is A Set-Aside?

A Motion to Set Aside conviction is Arizona’s way of helping adults modify their criminal record, and it’s the process that most people will use to get rid of a DUI. Motions to Set Aside can be used for most criminal convictions, provided that the person asking for one has met all of the requirements and effectively demonstrates their case for setting aside a conviction. There is a list of criteria and steps to take that need to be met before a set-aside can be given. If you haven’t already met all of the marks, the court and your legal representation will be able to tell you what you need to do.

Set-asides won’t magically erase every detail of the person’s criminal history. Technically, the DUI will always remain on the person’s record. What a set-aside does is set aside a guilty judgment and sentence. Generally that means that a person’s rights are restored as well. If you are granted a set aside, and if your rights are restored as well, you can own a gun, vote, or even become a politician. It removes the limitations and restrictions that came with the conviction by negating the guilty judgment. It also gives you the right to state that you do not have a conviction, which looks much better on an application for employment.

Who Can Get A Set-Aside?

If you’re looking to request a set-aside, it helps to be completely prepared. If you’re organized and you’ve waited enough time, it improves your changes of being granted a set-aside. The severity of the case is examined first and foremost – if your DUI or other conviction was particularly egregious, it’s going to be a little harder to explain your position. It isn’t impossible, but you’re going to need to work harder to prove that you should no longer be regarded as a convict.

The court will also look at your behavior after conviction. Your sentence likely came with requirements that included jail, fines, special classes, and probation. All of these things need to be completed to the court’s satisfaction before the will consider granting you a set-aside. This process will likely be costly, but it’s worthwhile to pay any outstanding balances to have your guilt vacated. They’ll also take into account whether or not you’ve committed any other crimes since your DUI, and how long it’s been. It helps to have a few years of a clean record under your belt to prove you’re no longer a risk to society.

Making Your Case for A Set-Aside

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re an ideal candidate for a set-aside, you can contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll review the details of your case to determine your best strategy. It’s sometimes difficult to create the perfect request for a DUI set-aside, but at Doug Taylor Law, we have the experience and determination to make it as simple as possible.