In Indiana, you generally have two records: your criminal record and your driving record. A criminal record includes only criminal misdemeanor and felony offenses, and a driving record includes current and resolved suspensions, citations, violations, and a summary of an individual’s driving history.
Many of the citations and violations that are found on a driving record are considered infractions. Indiana Code section 33-23-1-6 defines an infraction as an offense punishable by a fine, but not imprisonment. This conduct includes citations such as running a stop sign, failing to wear a seat belt, and driving over the speed limit. Even if you can avoid a criminal record, having multiple citations for infractions can affect your access to jobs, housing applications, and your credibility. However, it is true that Indiana’s Expungement Statute only applies to criminal arrests and convictions, and infractions, being civil in nature, cannot be expunged under the statute. Luckily, Indiana provides defensive driving courses to clear your citations and stop possible points from racking up on your driving record.
If deferral or defensive driving courses are not sufficient, you may seek to seal your Indiana driving record after a waiting period that depends on your circumstances:
• 30 days if you were found to not have committed the infraction or if the case was dismissed and not refiled;
• One year if the judgment finding you committed the infraction is vacated or appealed;
• Two years if the infraction was not prosecuted; and
• Five years if you participated in a deferral program or were found to have committed the infraction.
Nonetheless, Indiana drivers who receive ten infractions in ten years are at risk of being adjudicated as habitual traffic violators. This adjudication can result in the suspension, or permanent loss, of driving privileges and may be charged as a criminal offense. Additionally, operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI/DUI) is a criminal offense that will wind up on both your criminal and driving record.
In order to expunge, or seal, these records it will depend on the conviction itself. For a misdemeanor DUI conviction to be expunged, at least five years must have passed from the date of conviction, you cannot have committed any other crimes in the five years prior to filing an expungement petition, and you must have paid all court costs and fines associated with your previous criminal charges or convictions. For a felony DUI conviction to be expunged, the same applies, but at least eight years must have passes since the date of conviction before you can file to expunge. A habitual traffic violation, a Level 6 felony, has the same expungement requirements as a felony DUI.
In order to have these records sealed, you must file a petition to expunge in the county in which the conviction was entered. Indiana law states that the civil rights of a person whose conviction is expunged shall be restored and it will then be unlawful for anyone to access these sealed records. Due to the complexity of Indiana law and the requirements that come with sealing your driving record or expunging your criminal record, it is recommended that you do so with the help of legal counsel. Whether you want to learn more about the process of sealing your driving record or you are unsure whether your record is expungable, contact McNeely Law today at (317) 825-5510 to talk to an experienced attorney who can help you navigate through your options.
This McNeely Law LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.