It is common for a drunk driving arrest to begin with some sort of traffic incident. Maybe you’re on your way home from a work event and are stopped for speeding. Or perhaps you were at a backyard BBQ with friends and then rolled through a stop sign when you left. Regardless of the precipitating incident, if you were drinking and driving and pulled over for a minor traffic violation, you may also have been arrested for drunk driving.
DUI stands for driving under the influence. Although DUI typically indicates alcohol impairment, it can also include impairment from drugs. Pennsylvania has seen a pronounced increase in opioid abuse and DUI arrests related to opioids. In 2017, there were 5,456 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania, many of which involved opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs. The rate of deaths per 100,000 is 43, a number far above the national average of 22 per 100,000.
The highly addictive nature and availability of these drugs has led to more people attempting to drive while under the influence. This is extremely dangerous as drugs and alcohol impair one’s ability to judge distances, make decisions, and other necessary driving skills.
If you were arrested and subsequently convicted in Pennsylvania for a DUI, you may be suffering from the consequences of a DUI on your record. To reduce the impact of a DUI conviction, you can obtain the services of an experienced attorney.
Expungement is a viable option if this is your first DUI conviction. Steven Kellis 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 The Law Offices of Steven Kellis to schedule an initial consultation.
DUI Records in Pennsylvania
If you receive a DUI in Pennsylvania, it will be recorded with the criminal courts and with the DMV. If this is your first offense, you may find that the DMV record comes with more severe consequences. This record will follow you wherever you go and will affect the cost of your auto insurance premiums. While it is possible to receive an expungement on the court level, it is impossible to remove this record from the DMV.
Can You Get a DUI Expunged?
An expungement is a way of legally destroying, obliterating or striking out records or information in files, computers, and other depositories relating to criminal charges. Simply put, the DUI conviction is deleted or erased. In some instances, a DUI record is automatically expunged.
There are many reasons to seek a DUI expungement. For example, it may be difficult for you to obtain a job with a DUI on your record. You may have a harder time applying or getting accepted into colleges, obtaining a professional license, or renting a home or apartment.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, they will automatically expunge Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) records after 10 years “providing a person’s operating privileges were not revoked as a habitual offender and/or the person was not a commercial driver at the time of the violation.” This is helpful for some people, but in many circumstances, ten years is a long time to wait for licenses or college acceptance. A Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at The Law Offices of Steven Kellis will work to get your DUI expunged in a timely manner.
How to Get a DUI Expunged
Many of those charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania participate in the ARD program. This program is only for first-time offenders. In exchange for increased supervision (the maximum time period is two years), an offender can petition the court and request that their charge be dropped or expunged.
In order to participate in this program, you must have received a charge or arrest but no conviction. The State of Pennsylvania takes DUIs seriously and will not grant this privilege to offenders who would not benefit from treatment.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved this program in an effort to reduce the number of cases in courts and to utilize state and local resources more effectively when rehabilitation is a better option for offenders.
For those who participated in ARD, an expungement is fairly straightforward. The steps include:
- Completing a criminal history request form
- Obtaining proof of completion of the ARD program
- Requesting a petition or motion for expungement through the clerk of courts
- Submitting a notarized affidavit that you are providing accurate information to the court
When the paperwork has been filed, the district attorney who handled your case will have 30 days to file an objection. If there is no objection, it is completed.
If you did not participate in the ARD program, getting a DUI expungement in PA is much more difficult in comparison to other states. Pennsylvania law 18 Pa. C. S. § 9122 states that a criminal record may be expunged if:
- The individual is at least 70 years old and has been free of arrest or prosecution for 10 years since the completion of probation supervision
- The individual has been deceased for three years
- The individual petitions the court for the expungement of a “summary offense” and has been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following the conviction for the prior offense.
A summary offense is any offense that is punishable by a fine of up to $300 or a maximum of 90 days in jail. Examples of a summary offense include disorderly conduct, obstructing the highway, harassment, criminal mischief, underage drinking, dog laws and putting nails or other hard substances on utility poles. Many game and wildlife violations are summary offenses as well.
A DUI can be a summary offense (and therefore can be an expunged DUI) if it falls under General Impairment (.08 percent to .099 percent blood alcohol concentration) and is a first offense.
Some DUI offenders are ineligible to apply for Pennsylvania’s ARD program. These circumstances include:
- The offender had a passenger who was 14 years old or younger at the time of their DUI
- The offender has a previous DUI charge or ARD participation in the last 10 years
- The offender killed or seriously injured someone while driving under the influence
Legal Help for Expungement Is Available
Pennsylvania takes DUIs very seriously and has structured consequences accordingly. If you can wait 10 years, the DUI expungement after ARD program completion is automatic. If you require help sooner than that, or if you did not go through the ARD program, a skilled and experienced DUI defense lawyer may be your best option.
The rules for DUIs and the ARD program are confusing. Don’t assume you are or are not eligible to participate in the ARD program and remove the DUI from your record; you should speak with an experienced DUI attorney to get a clear idea of the implications of your charge and what you need to do to move past it.
Let Steven Kellis 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 can work to have your DUI expunged in:
- Allegheny County
- Montgomery County
- Bucks County
- Delaware County
- Lancaster County
- Chester County
- York County
- Berks County.