Being charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania can potentially ruin your life. It will show up on any background check for loan approvals, rental agreements and job searches. You may not be able to drive for a while, and you may be forced to install an ignition interlock device into your car. The worst news is that DUI’s almost never come off your record.
In Pennsylvania, a DUI conviction will almost always stay on your record forever. No matter where you go in the United States, your DUI will follow you, thanks to the National Driving Registry. This system notifies any department of driver services that you have a suspended license and/or that you have a DUI on your record. Dealing with this hassle is just one of the many consequences of drunk driving. However, it may be possible to have your conviction stricken from your record.
Pennsylvania’s DUI Punishments
Getting a DUI for the first time in Pennsylvania carries much less severe consequences than it does in other states. There is no minimum jail time if your blood alcohol content was between .08 and .99, though you will likely serve at least a night in jail following your arrest. If your BAC was between 0.1 and 0.159, you could be sentenced to two days in jail. If your BAC was .16 or higher, you can reasonably expect to spend three days behind bars.
However, your second, third and subsequent offenses are much more severe. For your second offense, you must spend at least five days in jail if your BAC was between .08 and .099, and you must spend 10 days in jail for your third offense. If you have a BAC between .1 and .159, expect to spend at least 30 days in jail for your second offense and 90 days for your third offense. Finally, for a BAC of .16 or higher, you will spend at least 90 days in jail for your second offense and at least a year behind bars for your third offense.
In addition to your jail time, your license will be suspended for a year after your first offense, and for 18 months after your second and third offenses. If you get two DUIs within a decade of each other, you will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle — a process that can cost you thousands of dollars over time.
It is important to note that these limits and consequences are for those who are legally permitted to drink alcohol. If you are under the age of 21, the maximum BAC you may register is .02 percent. If you have a BAC higher than .02, you will be facing a DUI charge in court in addition to other charges related to your underage consumption.
Is Expungement Possible?
In some states, it’s absolutely impossible to have a DUI expunged, or erased, from your criminal record. Luckily, Pennsylvania is not one of these states. However, in most cases, getting your record expunged can be extremely difficult. If you are on your first DUI charge, you may qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD. Those who go through this program may be eligible for expungement 10 years after their conviction, given their driving privileges were not suspended for another reason during that time.
If you are not eligible for ARD, it can seem close to impossible to get a DUI stricken from your record. You must meet one of these three qualifications:
- You are at least 70 years old and have been free of arrest or prosecution for 10 years since the completion of probation supervision
- You have been deceased for three years
- You petition the court for the expungement of a “summary offense” and have been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following the conviction for the prior offense
A “summary offense” is one that is minor. It is punishable by no more than a $300 fine and/or 90 days in jail. The only way a DUI fits into this category is if it is a first offense and your BAC was between .08 and .99. Otherwise, you will likely have to wait until well after you are 70 before your DUI can be expunged from your record.
Speak with a Pennsylvania DUI Attorney Today
So what’s the easiest way to not have a DUI in Pennsylvania affect your future? Never drink alcohol and drive. Unfortunately, you may have already been charged with drunk driving, and you are now facing harsh consequences that may be unaffordable. Contact Steven E. Kellis to learn more about your legal options and how he can help you. Your first consultation with an experienced PA DUI lawyer is free, meaning you have nothing to lose by reaching out to our office today.