Does a DUI arrest in Colorado stay on my record?

There is no doubt that a DUI conviction can complicate a person's life, which is why it is always worth fighting the offense. Even after paying the fines and serving any sentence issued in criminal court, the conviction can follow a person. Many employers conduct background checks and could reject an applicant for having a drunk driving conviction on their record.

A conviction is a clear-cut example, but is an arrest part of a person's criminal record? Police make a number of arrests that never lead to a conviction for one reason or another. Although everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the arrest is a part of their criminal history and it is available as a public record.

We have established that the arrest is part of a person's criminal record, but does it have to stay there? A process called expungement is available in each state, but the rules differ significantly from one jurisdiction to another. In Colorado, the rules are strict.

Colorado Revised Statute § 24-72-02 provides a path for sealing of arrest and criminal records other than convictions. Sealing does not erase the arrest, but it does make the information unavailable to the public, like prospective employers.

A person can petition the court to seal records in cases in which the person completed a diversion program, was never charged, the charges were dismissed or the person was acquitted.

Although this sounds straight forward, like any law, there are exceptions. A person cannot seal certain records, including traffic offenses (class 1 or 2) or infractions (class A or B). This includes drunk driving offenses.

Expungement is a tool for cleaning up certain criminal records, but no one should ever rely on an after-the-fact solution for any charge. Fighting the offense at the initial stages is always the best option.

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