Yes, (some) DUI charges can be expunged in Tennessee

By Nashville Expungement Attorney Daniel A. Horwitz:

*Note: This is a free informational resource about expungement law in Tennessee.  If you are seeking to hire an attorney to expunge your record for you, please click here instead.*

Tennessee DUI lawyers peddling their services are fond of claiming that DUI charges will remain on your record forever.  There is no doubt that DUIs can and do have significant consequences.  Accordingly, like all criminal charges, DUIs need to be taken seriously.  There is also no doubt, however, that dismissed DUI charges and many charges that begin as DUIs can be expunged in Tennessee.

If your DUI charge was dismissed outright or otherwise did not result in a conviction, then it can be expunged.  From littering to First Degree Murder, Tennessee law provides that criminal charges that do not result in a conviction can be expunged regardless of the offense.  Accordingly, as detailed in this FAQ on Tennessee’s expungement law:

“If your charge was dismissed, if you were arrested and released without being charged, if a no true bill was returned by a grand jury, if a judgment of nolle prosequi was entered in your case, if you were found not guilty by a judge or a jury, or if your conviction was reversed on appeal, then you are eligible to have your record expunged free of charge.”

Similarly, if you were convicted of DWI-Adult under a previous provision of the law, your conviction may also be eligible for expungement.  Barring other disqualifying factors, a conviction for DWI-Adult qualifies as an eligible misdemeanor offense that can be expunged as well.

Convictions that only began as DUI charges but were reduced to a lesser offense can often be expunged in Tennessee as well.  Many people who are eligible to expunge their convictions are unaware of this reality.  Even so, it is accurate.  As I have previously written, as a general matter, Tennessee law provides that “DUI charges that were pleaded down to the reduced charge of either Reckless Driving or Reckless Endangerment are eligible to be expunged.”  Thus, although a DUI conviction itself cannot be expunged, a conviction for a reduced offense usually can be expunged.

Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangerment charges are misdemeanor offenses.  They also are not included on this list of misdemeanors that are ineligible for expungement under Tennessee law.  As a result, absent other disqualifying circumstances, Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangerment convictions can be expunged after five years.  Further, because a reduced guilty plea to the offense of Reckless Driving or Reckless Endangerment is a common result for first-time DUI offenders, thousands of people who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge after being arrested for DUI are eligible to have their convictions expunged.

Relatedly, many people who are arrested for DUI are also charged with an Implied Consent violation at the same time.  Commonly, even if a person is convicted of DUI—a disqualifying misdemeanor offense—the Implied Consent violation will be dismissed.  As noted above, dismissed charges are always eligible to be expunged under Tennessee law.  Thus, even if a person’s DUI conviction cannot be expunged, the person can still expunge a related Implied Consent violation and help clear their record nonetheless.

If you have a criminal record that you want expunged, there is no substitute for consulting a lawyer to review your own individual circumstances.  If you think you may be eligible to have your record expunged and want to hire an attorney to evaluate your eligibility or file your paperwork for you, please click here for an individualized case review.