Driving under the influence (DUI) convictions in Pennsylvania come with hefty penalties, including thousands of dollars in fines and license suspension. You may have lost your job or suffered a loss of reputation because of a DUI conviction. Unfortunately, a DUI could haunt you for life – but not always. In some cases, the Pennsylvania courts will expunge a DUI from the offender’s record. Expungement seals the arrest and conviction records from the state and public, providing a fresh start. With an expunged record, the individual can truthfully state that he/she has never been convicted of a DUI on job applications. Here’s what to know about this process.
Who is Eligible for DUI Expungement?
Pennsylvania offers an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, which aims to rehabilitate instead of punish the offender in DUI cases. In ARD cases, there are no trials or court proceedings. Instead, there is a quick disposition of charges to save time and money. The only defendants eligible for the ARD program are first-time offenders with minor criminal charges who would benefit more from treatment than punishment. The ARD program is meant to give people the opportunity to reverse their situations and not become repeat offenders.
An offender can only get a DUI record expunged in Pennsylvania if the courts placed him or her in the ARD program instead of giving a criminal conviction. The ARD program only applies to misdemeanor offenses with an arrest or charge but no conviction. The Pennsylvania Code Rule 320 states that upon successful completion of the ARD program, the courts shall expunge the defendant’s arrest and charge records. The only time expungement would not occur after ADR is if the Commonwealth gives reasons to retain the arrest record.
Note that a DUI in Pennsylvania comes with two different records: one with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and one with the criminal courts. Car insurance companies will look at your record with the DMV to decide your premium amounts. A DUI on your DMV record could also result in the suspension or loss of your driver’s license, due to an accumulation of points on your license. Your DMV record can follow you from state to state. It is not possible to expunge a DUI record from the DMV. Pennsylvania laws only allow expungement at the court level, which will seal the record at the state police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
How to Get Your Record Expunged
As an ARD program participant, it’s relatively easy to get the courts to expunge your record. The courts will take care of expungement after you complete the program, as long as you petition the court to dismiss the charges against you. The program involves a period of supervision, community service, and costs and assessment fees. You will not have to pay court costs. The maximum time in the ARD program is two years. Once you complete the program, visit your county criminal court to request a petition for record expungement.
If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible for DUI record expungement in Pennsylvania, first check with your county’s criminal court. The courts can verify your eligibility and give you the proper paperwork to begin the expungement process. Never hesitate to speak to a DUI defense attorney in your area about your potential expungement. An attorney can make the entire process simpler for you.
After record expungement, the public will no longer be able to see record of your DUI. The Pennsylvania State Police will still keep a copy of your record on file, but only for investigative purposes. They cannot use the record against you in a subsequent offense or make it available to employers. For more information about DUI record expungement, talk to our experienced DUI defense attorneys.