A Drunk driving charge will appear on your record and follow you around for years. Additionally, driving under the influence can make finding or keeping employment difficult. Anytime you apply for work, the company will likely conduct a background check on you, meaning they will know your criminal history.
Unfortunately, a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania stays on your record for life and is accessible to the public. The only way to clear your DUI record is to expunge it.
What is expungement?
An expungement legally erases any trace of a conviction or arrest from your criminal record. Another option is an Order for Limited Access, where the conviction remains visible to those within the legal system but hidden from the public, including your employers.
Who is eligible for expungement?
An individual may if they have:
- Reached the age of 70 while maintaining a clean record for ten years
- Been dead for over three years
- Petitioned the court for a summary offense conviction and have maintained a clean record for five years since the offense
Pennsylvania law severely limits who is eligible for expungement, as most individuals who are looking to clear their record are under the age of 70. Another option is to apply, be accepted, and complete the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD).
How does an ARD work?
Once an individual meets the requirement of their ARD, their drunk driving charge will be dismissed, which allows it to be expunged.
However, not everyone who applies for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program will be accepted. In most cases, only first-time offenders qualify; even then, they must meet certain conditions. The first of which is that no victims were severely injured. Secondly, every passenger in the vehicle must have also been at least 14 years of age. Lastly, the offender must not have been previously charged with a felony or misdemeanor and must have a valid license.
Many Pennsylvanians choose to proceed with an ARD, but this program can only be used once, so you need to be careful. An ARD can also be quite expensive, and your DUI will remain visible on your driving record for ten years. However, after a decade has passed, your previous conviction will be automatically removed from your criminal record.
A drunk driving conviction can hurt your career and reputation. If this is your first offense, the best way to understand your expungement options is to seek a DUI lawyer’s help.