One of the most common questions I receive is “whether or not my DUI will remain on my record?”
I hate to speak in “lawyer-ese” but unfortunately, there isn’t a clear-cut answer.
The biggest unknown is what is meant by your “record”? Do you mean a criminal record, and if so, which criminal record? From the Illinois State Police, the FBI, or some private organization? Or do you mean the Secretary of State’s driving records, or a nationwide driver database, or insurance records? What about the clerk of the circuit court’s records? What about the internet?
It is impossible for me to exhaust all the possible places where an arrest might appear.
Let me start out with a few basic concepts:
1. In Illinois, first offenders are eligible for “court supervision.” Supervision is a type of sentence, which upon successful completion, results in dismissal of the charge. 730 ILCS 5/5-1-21.
The Illinois Secretary of State does not place supervision dispositions on the standard driving abstract that is readily available to the general public. However, supervisions are kept on a “court purposes” abstract, which is only available to certain government entities (like police and state’s attorneys), you and your lawyer.
Thus, a DUI supervision will not appear on your public driving record (but it will appear on the hidden “court purposes” one).
Even though you have received supervision, it will still remain on the clerk’s public record. These can be viewed by the public at the courthouse. In addition, many circuit court clerks have records available on the internet, or sell them to private companies. And the ones that don’t do this now may do so in the future.
2. In Illinois, DUI supervisions or convictions are not eligible for expungement. Neither are DUIs that were reduced to reckless driving. 20 ILCS 2630/5.2(a)(3)(A).
You can only obtain an expungement of an Illinois DUI if you were found not guilty of the offense, or the charge was otherwise dismissed.
If your case is expunged, then the clerk will remove the charge from their records, the arresting police will destroy their file and the Illinois State Police will remove the arrest from their records.
However, an expungement is not a complete erasure of your case. An Illinois expungement is not binding on the Federal government, so the FBI is not under any obligation to remove an expunged DUI from their database.
Also, an expungement does not apply to non-Illinois governmental businesses. For example, if your arrest was reported in a “police blotter” section of a local newspaper, and your name was indexed by a search engine, the arrest may pop up every time someone searches your name, regardless of the expungement.
Confusing, isn’t it? Feel free to ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.