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Don't count on an expungement to wipe a DUI off your record

Youthful exuberance often is responsible for some bad decisions, and sometimes the consequences of those bad decisions can have lasting repercussions. As a college town, there is a lot of revelry that goes on in Athens, and some of it involves underage drinking and drinking and driving.

When you are young and carefree, you may think that getting a DUI conviction on your record is not that big of a deal. You may even think that you can wind up getting your record wiped at some future point and it will all be behind you.

But you would be sadly mistaken. Under present laws of the state of Georgia, there are very strict circumstances where past convictions can be restricted by the courts. Youthful offenders get the biggest break here, but convictions for driving under the influence are not eligible for restriction, which is the term used for what was once referred to as "expungement." Furthermore, if you were charged with another crime at the same time that would otherwise qualify for restriction, such as a simple possession of marijuana charge, for instance, by getting the DUI, this would void that possibility. All charges in a case must be eligible for restriction for any to qualify.

The old term "expungement" was misleading because of the implication that a former defendant's criminal history was destroyed when it wasn't. It could still be accessed by law enforcement and various others.

Three years ago, Georgia changed its laws to reflect the new tern of "record restriction." Yet the particulars remain the same.

Suddenly what seemed like only a minor inconvenience is now a ball and chain that effectively bars you from many endeavors, fields of employment, living quarters, institutions of higher learning and many more opportunities of which you may not yet even realize exist. For all of these reasons, it's vital to fight valiantly against being convicted of DUI in the Georgia criminal courts.

Source: Georgia Justice Project, "FAQ’s – Record Restriction (Expungement)," accessed Sep. 16, 2016