NC DWI Expungement | Charlotte DWI Attorneys

DWI Expungement Under Current NC Law

As a Charlotte DWI defense lawyer, our office regularly receives calls from persons who have a prior DWI conviction on their criminal record. In most cases, the conviction or plea was many years, if not decades, ago. They still fear having a background check performed as part of a new job application or advancement within a company. The economy is still pretty difficult, and they are concerned they will not be able to find a good job or even lose the one they have now. Other callers are finishing school and are about to enter a field where they will be licensed professionally and are concerned they will not be able to start their new careers. These are legitimate concerns. Unfortunately, there is currently NO provision for DWI expungement.

Previously, there was a provision in the law that allowed expungement under certain circumstances, but that closed on December 1st, 2015. The legislature had left open a provision that would allow expunction of a nonviolent misdemeanor as long as it was 15 years in the past, under certain circumstances.  Any application for expungement that has not been processed by that date will not be completed. Therefore, prior DWI convictions are forever. And with the politically hostile climate towards “drunk” or “impaired” drivers, don’t expect any serious effort to help those deplorable “drunk drivers.”

No Forgiveness for Youth or Mistakes in Judgement

We have all been young and stupid. We have all done things that we regret. It does not seem fair to apply a blanket prohibition against all with previous DWI convictions on their records. The vast majority of DWI arrests involve people who are simply on their way home after a game or dinner. They had a few beers or wine and feel perfectly safe to drive. Like our clients, they are good, hard working folks who would never knowingly drive “above the legal limit” but are stopped and arrested.

Here is a little known truth. Even if you “blow” below the “legal limit,” you will still be charged and placed in jail. Over the years, we have represented many clients whose “blood alcohol content (BAC)” was 0.06 or 0.07. Sometimes, the level has been even lower. The State responds that while they were not at the “legal presumption” of 0.08%, these drivers were still “materially and appreciably impaired” and were unsafe to drive.

No Changes Expected Given Current DWI Political Climate

Politicians are public servants. They answer to the will of the electorate. At present and for the foreseeable future, the apparent will of the people is for even more restrictions and harsher DWI laws. There is no legislator who wants to keep their job who would be willing to advocate for laws that “help” drunk drivers. Somehow, we all believe in redemption and forgiveness until we look at the poor soul who makes one mistake after a night on the town.

Now I know that I am a DWI defense attorney. So obviously, I am somehow biased. But if you step back for just a moment, it seems unjust to punish someone for the rest of his or her life for a misdemeanor that harmed no one. I envision a day when this harshest of results can be remedied. They will say I’m a dreamer, but I know I am not the only one.