If you have been arrested and taken into custody for driving under the influence in DC, there are important things you need to know regarding the publicity of the arrest and the impact it can have. A lawyer can help explain what steps can be taken to deal with your DC DUI arrest record, so you should consult with an attorney right away.
A conviction for a DUI is a matter of public record and can affect someone’s ability to get or keep a job, particularly in the federal government. A DUI conviction can affect security clearances. When someone has a job that involves driving, a DUI conviction can cost them their job.
An arrest record in Washington DC is usually not public. However, the court record is public and anyone can infer from a court record that a person was arrested on a charge. There is no mechanism by which someone can obtain a person’s arrest record.
When a person wants to obtain records of someone’s arrest including police reports, mugshots, or any other records showing the underlying basis for the person’s arrest, they make a request to the DC police to get access to the records. Those records are kept with Metropolitan Police Department, United States Park Police, US Capitol Police, the prosecuting agency, or with the DC Superior Court.
In some situations, public arrest records in DC may show up in background checks run by potential employers, professional licensing agencies, or any other group that has an interest in knowing about a person’s criminal background.
Therefore, even if a person has an arrest that did not result in a conviction for a crime, sometimes the arrest record itself creates a situation where a person is forced to explain their criminal history. The person may even be in a position where they are denied a job, cannot obtain a professional license, or are denied certain government benefits as a result of an arrest record.
Even if the arrest records do not have the consequences of costing a person their job or government security clearance, the arrest records alone can be embarrassing to explain. The person could be put in a position of having their prior history become known to employers, co-workers, or possibly the media.
Mugshots are considered to be part of a publicly available arrest record which can be accessed by anyone who goes through the proper channels with the DC government to obtain them. However, unlike many other states, mugshots are not available in DC cases through common Internet searches.
As an example, many states have police agencies that post mugshots with the name of the suspect or the arrestee on the agency website or social media sites. These agencies occasionally post records of a person’s arrest on publicly searchable websites.
In DC, mugshots and other arrest-related records are typically not easily searchable through common Internet search engines such as Google.
To get access to someone’s mugshot, a person must go through the required steps to request those records through the DC government. Even though the records are available to the public, the DC government does not necessarily make them easily accessible.
In some situations, the DC police or prosecutors post mugshots online if there is a compelling public reason to do so. For example, in a case where a person might be wanted for a violent crime and the police need the public’s assistance in tracking that person down, the police may post a mugshot online or distribute it to media outlets to ask for the assistance of the community in finding that person.
In other situations, there might be a case of a genuine public interest for the community to know about a person’s arrest or conviction. That can include situations where the defendant or suspect is a high profile person who is arrested in DC. In those situations, the police are more likely to make a mugshot easily available and accessible to the public.
When an individual has a conviction for a DUI, it is not sealable or expungable. When an individual goes to trial on a DUI and is found not guilty or their DUI case is dismissed, there are various timeframes in which the person can move to have their DUI case expunged or sealed.
When someone is acquitted of a DUI, their court record remains visible until a successful motion or until a motion for expungement is filed.
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