When thinking about expunging a past arrest, charge, or conviction, it is good to keep in mind that not all records are treated equally. For example, an individual’s criminal record and their driving record are two separate records that are maintained by separate agencies. Although these records can have a significant impact on the person who has them and their ability to secure future employment, housing, or financing, these records are treated differently.
A criminal record is based on information compiled from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as court administration. These records will stay on a person’s record for life unless of course, they are sealed or expunged. Criminal records are stored with the court system, the state central repository for criminal records, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A criminal record is available through public agencies and is also accessible via the courthouse or police station, as well as private online databases. When a criminal record is expunged, these agencies are updated based on the type of criminal record relief that is granted.
Driving records, on the other hand, operate under separate terms. Often, certain less serious driving offenses can be removed from a person’s driving record after a specific time period. However, in some states this is not done automatically, but rather requires a request to remove eligible offenses from one’s driving record. These records are held by Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) and they typically do not share these records with companies that perform background checks, unless the driver signs a release of information.
But, when a driving-related offense becomes a criminal offense (e.g. DUI, or Driving with a Suspended License) and is classified as a misdemeanor or felony, the more serious offense will result in criminal prosecution or conviction which can lead to future challenges securing employment, housing, and insurance. These offenses are considered criminal in nature and if certain criteria are met, an arrest, charge, or conviction for these offenses can be expunged or sealed like other criminal offenses. However, in many states, like Minnesota, the expungement order from the court will not apply to one’s driving record. In other words, one’s criminal record may be expunged, but their driving record will not be expunged. .Many of the more serious driving offenses can remain on one’s driving record for life. For example, in Minnesota, DUIs, Criminal Vehicular Operations/Homicide, and other serious offenses will always stay on the driving records, because these prior offenses can affect future criminal and administrative penalties.
When an expungement is granted for a criminal conviction, all records on file with the
that are related to a person’s
will be destroyed or sealed from public view.
But, for driving offenses, the driving record may not be sealed or expunged. Why is this, you ask?
The expungement process is handled through the court system and when an expungement is granted, only the records held by the court (judicial branch of government) and other criminal justice agencies (executive branch of government) are sealed. The judge granting does not have the jurisdiction to tell separate agencies, like the DPS, what to do with their records.
If you are receiving criminal record relief for a driving offense, it is important to know that the criminal record will be updated. Your driving record, however, will only be updated based on the terms set by the DPS--which may not happen for months, years, or even ever. The best thing to do is to contact an attorney in the state where your record is and make sure that the attorney is experienced in handling criminal and driving related records.
In Minnesota, certain driving violations are considered criminal offenses. A request can be made to the court to seal any criminal court record, however, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety: Driver Vehicle Services (DVS) is in charge of maintaining driving records. Because of this, the court is not able to order your driving record to be sealed and a separate request needs to be made to DVS. Because of the complexities involved in expungement cases and submitting multiple requests to different agencies, it is strongly encouraged to secure legal advice from an experienced expungement attorney.