Although many– including those at the Law Offices of Whittel & Melton, LLC— argue that a political candidate’s spouse receiving a DUI over two decades ago is not newsworthy, media coverage of Sarah Palin’s husband’s old DUI does bring to light an interesting topic with respect to DUI convictions.
Unlike most other criminal charges, under Florida law, a DUI or DWI conviction can never be sealed or expunged. The DUI exception was carved out by the legislature for public policy reasons. The reason DUIs are never removed from traffic or criminal histories is because of the charging and sentencing structure used in Florida and around the country. A first DUI will always be treated differently than a second DUI and a second DUI will be treated more harshly than a third DUI and so on and so forth. With that DUI sentencing structure in mind, the legislature wants prosecutors and law enforcement to have easy access to a person’s DUI history and if DUIs are expunged, then judges would not know to sentence repeat offenders harshly and prosecutors would not know when subsequent DUIs should be charged as a felonies.
In addition, the fact that a DUI occurred in the past is only half the story, when the DUI occurred is also important. For example, a second DUI that occurs more than five years from the first is treated differently from a DUI that occurs within the five year period- namely the latter is subject to harsher mandatory sentences.
DUI is a unique crime in Florida and you need an experienced DUI Attorney to defend your case. Call DUI Attorney Whittel & Melton, LLC at 1-866-608-5529 statewide, 352-666-2121 in Brooksville/ Spring Hill, Hernando County, 727-847-2299 in Pinellas and Pasco County, and 352-726-0078 in Gainesville, Ocala, Citrus and Sumter Counties.