DUI Expungement in PA
A drunk driving arrest often starts with a traffic incident. It could be as simple as being stopped for speeding on your way home from a work event, or rolling through a stop sign after watching an Eagles game with friends. Regardless of the triggering event, if you were drinking and driving and pulled over for a minor traffic violation, you might find yourself facing an arrest for drunk driving.
DUI, an abbreviation for driving under the influence, commonly refers to alcohol impairment but can also encompass impairment from drugs. In Pennsylvania, there has been a significant rise in opioid abuse and related DUI arrests. In 2017, the state recorded 5,456 overdose deaths, many involving opioids such as heroin and prescription drugs. With a rate of 43 deaths per 100,000, Pennsylvania exceeds the national average of 22 deaths per 100,000.
The widespread availability and highly addictive nature of these substances have contributed to an increase in the number of individuals attempting to operate vehicles while under their influence. This behavior poses an extreme risk, as drugs and alcohol impair crucial driving skills such as judgment of distances, decision-making, and overall cognitive abilities.
If you find yourself arrested and subsequently convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania, you may be facing the long-lasting consequences of having such an offense on your record. To mitigate the impact of a DUI conviction, seeking the assistance of a skilled PA DUI attorney can prove invaluable.
Expungement is a viable option if this is your first DUI conviction in PA. Attorney James Bonner will evaluate your case to see if pursuing an expungement is the best option for you. Doing so can help you move on with your life, past the mistake of driving while under the influence. One mistake doesn’t have to cost you your livelihood. If you’d like to speak with an attorney about a DUI expungement in PA, call Attorney Bonner’s office to schedule an initial consultation or fill out the contact form.
DUI Records in Pennsylvania
If you are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, it will be documented both in the criminal courts and with the DMV. For first-time offenders, the DMV record may carry more severe consequences. This record will stay with you wherever you go and can impact the cost of your auto insurance premiums. Although it is possible to have the court record expunged, removing it from the DMV record is not possible.
The impact of a DUI record can be significant and far-reaching. When employers conduct background checks, they will check for criminal convictions as well as DMV records. When you apply to rent an apartment or buy a car, your potential landlord or lender will also have access to your DMV record, which may result in additional fees or even denial of services.
Having a DUI record does not mean your life is over. With the help of an experienced attorney, you may be able to take advantage of various options that allow you to move on with your life. Attorney Bonner can provide guidance and support throughout the expungement process and help you create a plan for your future.
Can You Get a DUI Expunged in PA?
Expungement is a legal process that involves the destruction or removal of records and information related to criminal charges, such as a DUI conviction. In simpler terms, it erases the DUI conviction from official records. Seeking a DUI expungement can be beneficial for various reasons. For instance, having a DUI on your record can make it challenging to secure employment, gain admission to colleges, obtain professional licenses, or rent a home or apartment.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, they automatically expunge Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) records after 10 years, as long as the individual’s operating privileges were not revoked as a habitual offender and they were not a commercial driver at the time of the violation. While this automatic expungement is helpful for some, waiting ten years for licenses or college acceptance can be a considerable amount of time. That’s why it’s advisable to enlist the services of a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer who can work efficiently to get your DUI expunged in a timely manner.
How to Get a DUI Expunged
Many charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania opt for participation in the ARD program, which exclusively caters to first-time offenders. In return for heightened supervision, lasting a maximum of two years, participants can petition the court to have their charges dropped or expunged.
To qualify for this program, it is imperative to have received a charge or arrest without a conviction. Pennsylvania takes DUIs seriously and only extends this privilege to offenders who can truly benefit from rehabilitation.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court sanctioned this initiative to alleviate the burden on the courts and to optimize the utilization of state and local resources, especially when rehabilitation proves to be a more effective option for offenders.
For those who have successfully completed the ARD program, expungement is a relatively straightforward process. It involves the following steps:
- Fill out a criminal history request form.
- Obtain proof of ARD program completion.
- Request a petition or motion for expungement through the clerk of courts.
- Submit a notarized affidavit, attesting to the accuracy of the information provided to the court.
Once the necessary paperwork has been filed, the district attorney assigned to the case will have 30 days to file an objection. If no objection is raised, the process is considered complete.
If an individual did not participate in the ARD program, obtaining a DUI expungement in Pennsylvania becomes notably more challenging compared to other states. According to Pennsylvania law (18 Pa. C. S. § 9122), a criminal record may be expunged under the following circumstances:
- The individual is at least 70 years old and has remained free of arrest or prosecution for a period of 10 years following the completion of probation supervision.
- The individual has been deceased for a minimum of three years.
- The individual petitions the court for the expungement of a “summary offense” and has remained free of arrest or prosecution for a period of five years following the conviction for the prior offense.
A summary offense refers to an offense that carries a fine of up to $300 or a maximum jail term of 90 days. Examples of summary offenses include disorderly conduct, obstructing the highway, harassment, criminal mischief, underage drinking, violating dog laws, and placing objects on utility poles. Many game and wildlife violations also fall under the category of summary offenses.
A DUI can be considered a summary offense (and thus eligible for expungement) if it falls under the General Impairment category (blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent to .099 percent) and is a first offense.
Certain DUI offenders are ineligible to apply for Pennsylvania’s ARD program. These circumstances include:
- Having a passenger who was 14 years old or younger at the time of the DUI incident.
- Having a previous DUI charge or participation in the ARD program within the past 10 years.
- Causing the death or serious injury of another individual while driving under the influence.
- Driving without a valid license.
For those ineligible for the ARD program, an expungement may still be achievable through a pardon. A pardon is granted by the governor and, if approved, will remove all criminal records associated with the offense from public record. However, this process is complex and time-consuming and should only be attempted with the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Legal Help for Expungement Is Available
Pennsylvania takes DUIs very seriously and imposes corresponding consequences. If you can wait for 10 years, completion of the ARD program automatically expunges the DUI from your record. However, if you need assistance sooner or if you did not go through the ARD program, it may be in your best interest to consult a skilled and experienced DUI defense lawyer.
Navigating the rules surrounding DUIs and the ARD program can be confusing. It’s important not to assume your eligibility for participation in the ARD program or the possibility of removing the DUI from your record. To gain a clear understanding of the implications of your charge and the necessary steps to move forward, it is advisable to seek guidance from an experienced DUI attorney.
Let James Bonner, Esq clear up the confusion and help you with your DUI charge. Contact us to set up a consultation with a Pennsylvania drunk driving lawyer who will with you to achieve the best possible outcome.