Getting a Driving Under the Influence conviction in North Dakota has become almost a rite of passage as North Dakota consistently has one of the highest rates of DUI arrests in the country.[i] Many people who get a DUI are generally law-abiding citizens who simply made a terrible mistake. But that one mistake can haunt a person for years as the record of a DUI conviction remains public with anyone, including your friends, family, and employer, being able to access information about the conviction. A DUI conviction is a stain that can tarnish a person’s otherwise stellar reputation for many years after the conviction.
Fortunately, there is now a way for many people to hide the biggest mistake of their lives from the general public.
Effective August 1, 2019, a past DUI or Actual Physical Control conviction may be sealed under North Dakota law.[ii] In order for a past DUI conviction to be sealed, an individual previously convicted of the offense must not have another conviction for a DUI, or any other criminal offense overall, for seven years following the initial DUI. So assuming you were convicted of a DUI seven years or more ago, and have had no criminal convictions since then, you should be eligible to have your past DUI record sealed. The major exception to this law is that you are not eligible to have a DUI conviction sealed if you are a licensed commercial driver.
What exactly does a “sealed” DUI conviction mean? Sealing is not equal to “expungement,” where a criminal conviction is for all intents and purposes “erased” from an individual’s record. A sealed DUI conviction simply means that it would not be available for viewing by the general public, such as by an individual’s potential employer(s). But a sealed DUI conviction would still remain visible to law enforcement and the court system. Unfortunately, this means that a prosecutor could still use the conviction for enhancement purposes if you are charged with more than one DUI or like offense in a particular period of time.
An attorney can help you with the process of filing the paperwork needed to seal a past DUI conviction. If you or someone you love is interested in sealing a past DUI conviction, please contact Ohnstad Twichell for more information and assistance.
*The information provided in this letter is of a general nature and should not be acted upon without prior discussion with your Ohnstad Twichell, P.C., attorney.
[ii] See N.D.C.C. § 39-08-01.6.