Can I Get a DUI Expunged in SC?

Minor first-offense convictions in the magistrate or municipal court can be expunged in SC after three years – so, can I get a DUI expunged in SC?

Although DUI first-offense charges in SC are heard in the magistrate or municipal court, a DUI cannot be expunged in SC. You cannot rely on getting an expungement down the road, and a DUI conviction will remain on your criminal record for life.

This means that, if you are charged with any DUI offense, you must fight the charge to get it dismissed, win it at trial, or find an alternative resolution that will keep the charge off your record.

Why can’t I get a DUI expunged in SC? And are there alternatives to conviction for DUI offenses in SC that will keep a DUI off my record?

Can I Get a DUI Expunged in SC?

SC expungement law says that you can get a first-offense conviction in the magistrate or municipal court expunged after three years, but traffic offenses are excluded:

(A) Following a conviction for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than thirty days imprisonment or a fine of one thousand dollars, or both, the defendant after three years from the date of the conviction, including a conviction in magistrates or general sessions court, may apply, or cause someone acting on his behalf to apply, to the circuit court for an order expunging the records of the arrest and conviction and any associated bench warrant. However, this section does not apply to an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle.

Although DUI, DUAC, or any DUI-related offense cannot be expunged, there are a few exceptions to the rule that traffic offenses cannot be expunged. For example:

  • Charges for failure to stop for a blue light can be expunged after three years if there were no injuries;
  • Minor traffic offenses can be sent to TEP (Traffic Education Program) and expunged when the program is completed; and
  • Reckless driving can also be sent to PTI (Pretrial Intervention) and expunged when the program is completed.

Reckless Driving Charges Can Be Expunged Through PTI

Why is it important that reckless driving can be expunged?

Although it is in the prosecutors’ discretion, based on the strength of the prosecutor’s case and the defendant’s mitigating circumstances, a DUI offense can be rewritten to a reckless driving charge.

The reckless driving charge can then be sent to PTI and expunged after completion of the program. So, with the prosecutor’s cooperation and some creative thinking, a DUI offense can be expunged after all…

What Charges Can Be Expunged in SC?

Although a DUI conviction cannot be expunged in SC, there are several categories of offenses that can be expunged.

Dismissals Can Be Expunged in SC

Regardless of the type case – it could be DUI or murder – you can have all record of your arrest and prosecution expunged after your case is dismissed.

In the magistrate and municipal courts, the clerk should automatically begin the expungement process after dismissal, but in General Sessions Court, you or your attorney will need to initiate the expungement process.

Acquittals Can Be Expunged in SC

As with dismissals, you can have all records of your arrest and prosecution expunged after an acquittal. The process should also be automatic in the magistrate or municipal courts but will require further action by you or your attorney if the acquittal was in General Sessions Court.

Pre-Trial Diversion Programs Can Result in Expungement

If you complete a diversion program, your charges will be dismissed and expunged, including programs like:

  • PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention);
  • TEP (Traffic Education Program); or
  • AEP (Alcohol Education Program).

Other Diversion Programs that Can Result in Expungement

There are other diversion programs that are technically not “pretrial,” but that will still result in dismissal and expungement of your charges.

For example, a conditional discharge for a minor drug offense is not “pretrial” – it requires a guilty plea, but the plea is then set aside, dismissed, and expunged after completion of community service.

Another example is drug court. It is not “pretrial” because you must plead guilty before entering drug court. Your conviction and sentence are then “held in abeyance” until you complete the program. After completion of the program, your plea is reopened, your charges are dismissed, and all records of the arrest, prosecution, and plea are expunged.

Some Convictions Can Be Expunged in SC

Convictions that can be expunged in SC include:

  • 30-day misdemeanors in the magistrate or municipal court three years after the date of conviction or completion of the sentence;
  • Domestic violence third degree can be expunged five years after the date of conviction or completion of any sentence;
  • YOA offenses can be expunged five years after the completion of the sentence;
  • Fraudulent check charges can be expunged one year after the date of conviction;
  • Failure to stop for a blue light can be expunged three years after the date of conviction or completion of the sentence if there were no injuries;
  • First offense simple possession of any type of drug can be expunged three years after the date of conviction or completion of the sentence; and
  • First offense possession with intent to distribute can be expunged 20 years after the conviction or completion of the sentence.

Expungement Attorney in Charleston, SC

Grant B. Smaldone is a criminal defense lawyer in Charleston, SC who also handles expungements for clients.

If you think you may be eligible for a SC expungement, call now at (843) 808-2100 or send us your information to find out if your record can be expunged.


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