It’s important that you’re aware of ‘expunged’ motor vehicle records (MVRs) when hiring drivers. A lot of states allow drivers to hide violations from employers by allowing them to remove a portion of their driving record. However, these states don’t stop employers to ask about these expunged records from applicants. You can ask drivers to list their violations and you can decide if you want to hire them or not. You’ll manage to better defend yourself from negligent entrustment claims if drivers conceal their expunged records.
Expunged MVR violations like DUIs and speeding tickets are happening more frequently in some jurisdictions. Puerto Rico is one of them where employees have successfully expunged several moving violations from their MVRs.
What Is Expungement?
Expungement is a legal process for removing a violation for an individual on their driving record. Expunged records may be used by courts for future cases. They can also be used by government agencies and law enforcement for several reasons. This is something all fleet managers should be concerned about. The important question is whether the preceding MVR with the DUI or speeding violation would be discovered in case of a lawsuit.
Expungement cases tend to happen more frequently for employees that need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Drivers that have infractions on their records hire lawyers to expunge their records from their MVR. A CDL driver can be successful in expunging their records but they will be violating regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The regulation of the FMCSA directs states to process all violations without any deferred judgment, diversion, masking or expunging of violations for CDL-licensed drivers. However, a lot of local courts don’t know about this regulation and still allow masking, diverting, deferring, and expunging.
All states record motor vehicle records for all drivers but how long they keep those records tend to be different for each state. Most states let convictions of ticketed moving violations to be kept on the driver’s history for a period of 3, 5, 7, or 10 years. In a lot of cases, the best way to have violations removed from records is by allowing time to pass. Every state has its own policy for allowing expungement of violations from driving records. The conditions and laws that dictate when records can be expunged or sealed are different for each case and for every state.
In several states, if you want to expunge your record, it should be a first-time offense. However, this isn’t always the case. In general, some time must pass before you can make a petition to the courts for expungement. You must complete probation to qualify for dismissing a criminal conviction. If probation wasn’t given, then you must have paid all the fines. The process for expungement involves sending a petition to the court with a motion seeking relief and an affidavit that a judge will review.
The record will be hidden from an MVR after expungement. Each state has its own laws but, in general, an applicant doesn’t need to disclose expunged convictions on their job application. They can answer ‘no’ honestly on the application since legally a record doesn’t exist after it has been expunged.