Can You Expunge a Traffic Violation From Your Record?

Clearing a traffic violation conviction from your driving record.

"Expungement" normally refers to the process for removing a conviction from your criminal record. However, in some states, you can also expunge a traffic infraction from you record. In states that allow it, expunging a traffic violation can have certain benefits.

What Are Traffic Violation Expungements?

Most states have expungement procedures for removing violations from your record. However, whether this type of procedure is available for traffic violations depends on what state you live in.

States Where You Can't Expunge Traffic Tickets

In many states, like California, Texas, and Ohio, expungement procedures are available only for criminal convictions—not traffic infractions. So, in these states, you generally can't expunge minor traffic violations like speeding, running a stop sign, and the like.

For some of the more serious driving-related offenses, on the other hand—like driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless driving—expungement would likely be possible in these states.

States That Have Traffic Ticket Expungements

However, some states, like Utah, have a process for expunging minor traffic violation convictions. To find out whether a traffic ticket expungement is possible in your state, it's best to check with a local traffic attorney.

Expungement Procedures

Expungement procedures vary by jurisdiction. But expungement procedures generally share some similar features.

Expungement Eligibility

To be eligible for an expungement, you typically have to meet certain criteria. For example, following a traffic violation conviction, there might be a waiting period (like a year or so) to complete before you're allowed to apply for the expungement. Also, expungements might not be available for some more serious traffic offenses.

Expungement Applications

In many areas, you can apply for an expungement by filling out a standard form. Generally, you find these types of forms online or pick one up at the courthouse. If you have questions about applications, it's probably a good idea to call the court clerk.

Automatic Expungements

There are also states that automatically expungement traffic violations after a certain number of years have passed. In these states, there's no need to fill out an application or take any other action.

Alternatives to Traffic Expungements

In states that don't allow traffic ticket expungements, you might still be able to lessen the impact of a traffic ticket.

Traffic School and Defensive Driving Classes

For eligible drivers, traffic school (also called "defensive driving") can be a good option for keeping a ticket from affecting your driving record. Depending on the state, completion of traffic school might keep points off your driving record or get rid of the violation altogether.

In some states, drivers can take traffic school or a defensive driving class preemptively can get a point credit. The point credit will cancel out points the driver might get in the future for a ticket.

Request a Deferral

Some states have a "deferral" option for traffic tickets. Generally, a driver is eligible for a deferral only once every seven years or so. To get a deferral, the driver must pay the fine or an administrative fee. So long as the driver doesn't get any new violations within a certain period of time (normally six months to a year), the deferred violation won't go on the driver's record.

Waiting for Points to Expire

In most states, traffic violation points expire after a certain number of years. So, if you can stay violation-free, your violation point tally will eventually go down on its own. Generally, expiration periods range from one to three years.

Beat Your Ticket in Court

Apart from avoiding tickets in the first place, beating your ticket in court is the best way to keep your driving record clean. If you contest a ticket and win, your driving record will be unaffected.

Plea Bargaining for a Non-Point Offense

Generally, states have some traffic violations that carry points and others that don't. One way to keep points off your record is to plea bargain for a non-point violation.

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