Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go back in time to when you had a spotless driving record? There will be no speeding tickets. Reduced auto insurance rates. You might be able to, fortunately. If you meet certain requirements, some states will allow you to have violations removed from your driving record. You may also be able to remove convictions or points by enrolling in a driver safety course. Ideally, you will avoid having convictions and points added to your driving record in the first place.
Method 1 Expunging Violations from Your Record
1. Take a look at your driving record. Before you begin the process of removing violations from your driving record, you must first determine what is on your record. You can obtain a duplicate of your record in the following ways:
Purchase from your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Visit the store or look at the website. Many states allow you to obtain a copy of your driving record in person or online. Typically, you must pay a fee.
Place your order online. Backgroundchecks.com has partnered with the website DMV.com. They are not affiliated with your state government, but you can pay a fee to obtain a copy of your driving record from their website.
Contact your auto insurance company, which should be able to provide you with a free copy.
2. Determine how long offences remain on your record. Each state determines the length of time a traffic violation remains on your record. In Minnesota, for example, serious speeding violations (15+ mph over the limit) are recorded on your record for 15 years.
Most convictions in Washington remain on your record for five years. Alcohol-related convictions and vehicular assault/homicide convictions, on the other hand, remain on your record for life.
Check your state’s DMV website to see if this information is available.
3. Inquire with the DMV about the possibility of expunging convictions. It is up to each state whether or not to expunge convictions from your driving record. Convictions will not be expunged in Oklahoma, for example. Instead, you must wait three years for the convictions to be removed from your record.
Certain requirements, such as completing a state-approved driver improvement course and maintaining a clean driving record for a certain period of time, may be required in order to have your convictions removed. This varies from state to state.
4. Check to see if you meet the prerequisites. The DMV should inform you of any requirements you must meet. In Maryland, for example, you must meet the following requirements:
Three years without being convicted of another moving violation or criminal offence involving a motor vehicle.
There will be no licence suspension or revocation.
There will be no convictions for DWI, DUI, or failing to remain at the scene of a crime resulting in death or bodily harm.
5. Fill out a request form. The form will be provided to you by your DMV. The form differs by state, but you will generally be asked for the following information:
date of birth
driver’s license number
certification that you meet the requirements
6. Pay the required fee. A fee for a manual expungement may be required by your state. Call the DMV ahead of time or check their website for the fee and acceptable payment methods (cash, credit, debit, check).
Your request will be reviewed, and you will be notified in writing of the outcome. Contact the DMV if you haven’t heard anything after a couple of weeks.
Method 2 Taking a Driver Safety Course
1. Check to see if a course deducts points. In some states, taking a driver safety course can result in the removal of points from your driving record (also called a defensive driving course). You should double-check before enrolling in a course. If you take a course, you may also be able to have your tickets dismissed.
If you’ve received a traffic ticket, you can ask the judge if you can take a driver safety course.
Check online as well. The DMV website in your state should tell you whether you can use a driver safety course to clear your record.
2. Confirm your eligibility. Your state may have restrictions on who can take a defensive driving course to get points or convictions removed from their records. Check with your local DMV to see if you are eligible.
States, for example, may give you a time frame in which to complete the course. You won’t be able to take it if you wait too long.
Other states may require you to choose the course when you pay the fine. If you don’t, you won’t be able to take the course.
3. Find a suitable course. There are numerous courses available, but you must select one that is recognised by your state. Inquire whether the state maintains a list of pre-approved courses. If this is the case, choose a course from the list.
Check that the course fits into your schedule. If you do not attend, you will not be able to clear your record.
You may be able to take the course online or in a classroom, depending on your state. Select the best option that works best for you. However, don’t expect an online class to be “easier.” When taking an online class, you may find it difficult to concentrate.
4. Finish the course. Courses range in length from four to twelve hours and cover a wide range of topics such as alcohol or drug abuse, traffic laws, road safety, and developing positive driving habits and attitudes.
Make sure you get a certificate or other proof that you finished the course. Take a copy of your certificate to the DMV and keep a copy for your records.
Method 3 Fighting Tickets in the First Place
1. Take notes on the surrounding circumstances. Another way to keep your driving record clean is to fight any tickets before they appear on your record. This is especially important if you’ve been charged with a DUI or another serious offence that will remain on your record for a long time. Begin by documenting the events leading up to your arrest:
What were you doing?
Where was the officer?
What did the officer say?
Did you consent to any search, including a breathalyzer test? Did the officer ask for consent or immediately start searching your vehicle?
2. Speak with a lawyer. Serious offences, such as DUI, necessitate the assistance of an experienced attorney. Even if you are fighting minor traffic tickets, you will benefit from the services of a traffic attorney. Contact your local bar association to find a traffic attorney. Request a referral.
You will have to pay for a lawyer, so consider whether the expense is worthwhile. If you’re going to lose your licence as a result of a DUI, paying a few thousand dollars might be worth it. Paying that much money to fight a speeding ticket, on the other hand, might not be.
Inquire whether a lawyer will assist you in navigating the process. Most states allow lawyers to provide “unbundled” legal services. In this arrangement, the lawyer will perform discrete tasks such as drafting a discovery motion or advising you on the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Then you complete all of the other tasks.
3. Request that the police conduct an investigation. You should be able to obtain certain documents from the police to assist you in preparing for your trial. Request the officer’s notes in particular. These notes should include information about why you were stopped by the officer. The process of obtaining these documents is known as “discovery.”
Typically, you will need to file a motion with the court. Check to see if there is a form that needs to be completed. If you’re not sure how to request discovery, talk to a traffic attorney—or hire one and let them handle the case for you.
It is worth noting that few defendants in traffic court file discovery motions. Your request may be rejected.
4. If the officer fails to appear, file for dismissal. If the officer fails to appear to testify against you, you may be able to have the case dismissed in some states. In other states, however, if the officer fails to appear, the judge will reschedule the case. Regardless, you should request a dismissal.
5. Create a defence strategy. You can challenge the state’s evidence in a number of ways. Analyze your evidence carefully and select the best approach based on the facts:
Dispute the officer’s observations. The officer may not have been in a position to see what you were doing accurately. When possible, cast doubt on the officer’s point of view. For example, if the officer was hiding behind a tree at night, they may not be certain your car was speeding.
Any speed reading should be questioned. The officer could have misused the radar or laser. Inquire about their training and whether they carefully calibrated the machine to accurately record speed.
Justify your actions as required. You may have swerved into another lane in order to avoid a pedestrian or an erratic vehicle.
6. Avoid making ineffective excuses. Some defence theories will not work on a judge, so avoid them. Avoid making any of the following arguments, for example:
The officer is telling the truth. You will not be believed by the judge unless you have proof.
You claim that everyone else was going too fast. That will not absolve you of responsibility.
You argue that because no one was harmed, you should not be held accountable. You’re being prosecuted to keep you from hurting anyone else in the future.
You claim that you are unaware of the law. Ignorance of the law is no defence.
If possible, simply apologise and demonstrate how your behaviour has changed since the incident. Apologizing rather than becoming defensive is more likely to please the officer, which may result in the case being dismissed.
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