How Long Does a Pennsylvania DUI Stay on Your Record?
In Pennsylvania, DUI or Driving Under the Influence is usually considered a misdemeanor. While a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, it can still trigger a slew of harsh consequences — including a prominent note on your public criminal record. Anyone can view this record, including but not limited to prospective employers and loan officers, which means that you may run into obstacles when you’re trying to get hired for a job or take out a loan. So is there any way you can remove old DUI charges from your record?
Pennsylvania’s ARD Program for First Time DUI Offenders
Pennsylvania offers certain DUI offenders something called ARD, which stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. In order to qualify for ARD, an applicant must be able to meet a few basic criteria, including:
- A clean record dating back at least 10 years.
- No death or injury caused by the DUI incident.
- No passenger (aged 14 or younger) in the car at the time of the incident.
If all of these conditions are satisfied, it may be possible for you to participate in the program. Then, if you’re able to complete the ARD program, you can petition the courts to expunge your criminal record.
We’ll talk about how the expungement process works in greater detail later on, but for now, let’s answer a more basic question: what does the term expungement mean? And why is ARD so important if you’re interested in obtaining one?
Who Qualifies for Expungement in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania law defines expungement as the act of removing information so that there is no longer any trace or indication that such information ever existed in the first place. While the court system will retain access to your records for reference in the event of future arrests, the records themselves can no longer be accessed by the general public. To people who are conducting background checks, including future employers, it will be as if the arrest never occurred.
While expungement may still be possible without the ARD program, it also becomes markedly more difficult, because Pennsylvania’s eligibility criteria are extremely strict. Unless you complete ARD, in accordance with 18 Pa. C.S. 9122 there are only two scenarios which allow for a misdemeanor to be expunged:
- You are at least 70 years old, and have not been arrested or prosecuted within the past 10 years.
- You passed away three years ago.
Assuming neither of the above scenarios apply to you, expungement is all but impossible. However, while very rare, it may be possible to obtain a pardon from the Board of Pardons, or BOP. (Note that while a pardon is not the same as an expungement, obtaining a pardon will allow you to seek an expungement.)
How to Expunge a DUI Record in Pennsylvania
As the above information makes clear, the simplest path toward a clear criminal record is completion of the ARD program. In fact, under Rule 320 (Expungment Upon Successful Completion of ARD Program), “When the judge orders the dismissal of the charges against the defendant, the judge also shall order the expungement of the defendant’s arrest record…” However, you may encounter resistance if the attorney for the Commonwealth objects. Furthermore, it is always best to be proactive and seek out an expungement as soon as possible, rather than waiting for an automatic procedure to “kick in.”
So once you finish ARD, what should be your next step? The entire process is outlined by Rule 790 (Procedure for Obtaining Expungement in Court Cases) as follows:
- Step 1 — You must file a petition with the court clerk in the district where your original charges were disposed. This petition needs to contain several specific pieces of information, including but not limited to your contact information, the docket number, the Offense Tracking Number (OTN), and the charges you wish to expunge. The petition also needs to include a copy of your criminal record with the Pennsylvania State Police, which you’ll need to obtain within two months of filing.
- Step 2 — At the same time you file your petition, a copy of the petition must also be served on the attorney for the Commonwealth.
- Step 3 — Within 60 days of being served, the attorney for the Commonwealth will either:
- Take no action.
- File a consent.
- File an objection.
- Step 4 — You will be served with the consent or objection.
- Step 5 — The judge will either grant or deny the expungement, or will schedule a hearing. Once the hearing concludes, the judge will enter an order to either deny or grant your petition.
Pennsylvania DUI Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you were convicted of intoxicated driving in the past, an expungement can help you avoid obstacles in the future. The experienced criminal defense lawyers of Young, Marr & Associates can help. To schedule a free and confidential case evaluation, call our law offices at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania today.