State v. Neira, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___ S.E.2d ___ (Mar. 3, 2020)

In 2007 the defendant was convicted of DWI and felonious speeding to elude arrest, charges arising from a single incident.  In 2018 he filed a petition for expunction of the speeding to elude charge.  The trial court denied his petition, agreeing with the State’s argument that because the charge for “fleeing to elude [was filed under] the same file number as DWI” it was an offense “involving impaired driving” and was therefore ineligible for an expunction.  While “[w]hether to grant an expunction is a discretionary determination” normally reviewed for abuse of discretion, the court reviewed de novo whether the trial court had erred as a matter of law by interpreting G.S. 15A-145.5(a)(8a) as to render the defendant ineligible for expunction due to the speeding to elude charge being an “offense involving impaired driving as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(24a).”  Noting that the speeding to elude conviction involved impaired driving as a matter of fact, the court explained that “the statutory regime defines expunction eligibility in term of the offense in question” and that felonious speeding to elude arrest is not defined in G.S. 20-4.01(24a) as an “offense involving impaired driving.”  Thus, the trial court made an error of law in determining that the defendant was categorically ineligible for expunction.