I’ve got good news and bad news about expunging a DUI in Colorado.
First, the bad news is that it happened in Colorado. Colorado does not allow anyone convicted as an adult of a DUI or DWAI to get their conviction expunged. Once you’re convicted, and the conviction hasn’t been overturned, that conviction will stay on your record for life.
And now for some good news:
The good news is that if you weren’t convicted, you can possibly get your arrest record expunged. That is, if you were acquitted at trial, the judge threw the case out, or the DA dropped the charge for whatever reason, your arrest record may become eligible to be expunged or sealed.
But now we’re back to bad news: There’s a ten-year waiting period to get your DUI or DWAI arrest record expunged. And if you got charged with any crimes in the interim, you won’t be able to get your DUI arrest record in Colorado expunged. The only exceptions in Colorado are for juveniles, and if your arrest was a case of mistaken identity.
Yes, it’s not fair. People get falsely charged with crimes all the time. But that’s the law in Colorado!
Sealed vs. Expunged in Colorado
You should understand there’s a difference between getting your case sealed and getting it expunged. When a case is sealed, it means it’s no longer discoverable to the general public. So it won’t show up in an employer or landlord’s background check. But it’s still viewable by law enforcement and the courts.
Furthermore, if you run afoul of the law again, the court may decide to unseal your previous records. So they will again be discoverable to potential future employers, landlords, and creditors.
In an expungement, the state destroys your record entirely. That means not even law enforcement will have a record of it. And, of course, your record would not be discoverable via a public records or criminal background check.
However, if your arrest made the papers, or other social media accounts, it could come up in Google searches of your name in the future.
So expunged is better than sealed! But in Colorado, DUI and DWAI convictions are never eligible for either. And if you’re arrested as an adult but never convicted, neither charge can be expunged in Colorado until at least ten years after the arrest. And then only if you have had no criminal charges since the arrest.
Your best bet is to avoid getting arrested for DUI or DWAI in Colorado in the first place.
Can I Expunge a Juvenile DUI Charge in Colorado?
Colorado’s a tough jurisdiction to get a DUI or DWAI charge expunged if you’re arrested as an adult – and it’s impossible if you’re actually convicted as an adult.
But the State of Colorado is more forgiving if you’re arrested and/or convicted of underage drinking and driving (UDD) as a minor. To qualify as a UDD, your blood alcohol level must have been 0.5% or below.
If your record was clean since your arrest/conviction as a minor, and you have never held a CDL and you weren’t driving a commercial vehicle when you got arrested, you can apply to have your Colorado record expunged when you turn age 21.
An expungement doesn’t just erase the state’s records of the arrest and/or conviction; It also entitles you to answer any questions on private or government background checks, employment applications, credit applications, etc. by saying you were never arrested or convicted of this offense.
That can be very significant down the road if you’re applying for a job or secret clearance. It also enables you to drive for Uber and Lyft, if you want – both of whom require at least seven years to have elapsed since your last DUI before they will approve you to drive for them
If you’re eligible, an expungement of your juvenile UDD conviction s is a great way to start your professional life with a clean slate: Once the record is expunged, prospective landlords, creditors, and employers won’t be able to see it in background checks.
Car Insurance When You’ve Had a DUI in Colorado
If you’ve been arrested or convicted for DUI, DWAI, or UDD in Colorado, you can expect to have to have an SR22 requirement.
That means in order to get your drivers license reinstated, you must get your car insurance company to file a SR22 certificate with the state, verifying that you have the legal minimum amount of liability insurance in place to drive in Colorado.
You can also expect to pay much more in car insurance premiums than prior to your offense.
Not every company will file an SR22 document for you. Some companies just don’t want people with a DUI/DWAI offense on their record at all. The risk is just too high for them. Your insurance company may drop you altogether once they find out about your DUI/DWAI)
Other companies will jack up your premiums beyond belief.
Some car insurance companies are reasonable. Other car insurance companies treat people with one or two dings on their record like a DUI as a second-class citizen.
This is why you should shop around with many different Colorado car insurance companies as you can: So you can keep the insurance companies honest and make sure you’re not getting jacked around for one mistake.
Here’s the other dirty secret about the insurance business: Lots of car insurance agents can’t help you shop around for the best car insurance value for you!
Many major insurance companies keep their sales agents captive. That means that no matter what your situation, they can only sell you a car insurance company from their company.
And that company is counting on you not shopping around!
To get the best deal on car insurance after a DUI or other driving-related offense, you should work with an independent car insurance agent. One who isn’t captive to any one company, but who can take your application and shop it around to many different carriers – all of which are competing for your business.
That’s were we come in. At Select Insurance Group, we’re an independent car insurance broker who can help you sign up with many different car insurance companies doing business in Colorado. And we can help you analyze each offer or quote from the different carriers, and all their different policy provisions, and help you select the best one.
When it comes to higher-risk drivers, insurance companies vary widely. Pricing can be all over the map. Some carriers will offer a much better value than others.
That means choosing the right carrier can save you thousands of dollars per year in car insurance premiums, for otherwise nearly identical policies!
See you on the road!
Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig,
CEO, Select Insurance Group