How Do You Get a DUI Expunged in Pennsylvania?

When a charge is expunged, it means it is removed from your criminal record. Pennsylvania state laws make it challenging to have a DUI expunged. One law (PA C.S. § 9122) even lists some pretty extreme criteria: you have to be 70 years of age or older and have no prosecutions for 10 years since your last probation program. Or, you have to be dead for three years!

DUI Expungement Options

Having a DUI conviction can prevent you from getting certain jobs or participating in certain programs. It can even affect your ability to lease a home or get a bank loan. Since most people don’t want to wait until they are 70 – or dead! – to have a DUI removed from their record, they should know that they only have two practical options:

  • Complete the ARD program, where you will have your DUI arrest and prosecution erased automatically after 10 years, in most circumstances.
  • Have no arrests or prosecutions for five years following the date of conviction for a “summary offense,” which includes a first-time General Impairment DUI, whereupon you can petition the court to expunge your DUI conviction.

Both of the strategies for expunging an existing conviction rely upon a criminal justice system that is frequently unforgiving. Yet in nearly all circumstances, anyone who wants to prevent a DUI conviction should fight prosecution. They can attempt to have their charges reduced. In some cases, they may even be able to have all charges dropped.

For more information about having your DUI expunged or how you may be able to defend yourself against DUI charges, contact Steven E. Kellis, an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer. Call (267) 314-6693 or contact us online to schedule your free case review now.

Expunging a DUI with ARD 

In most cases, the ARD program automatically erases DUIs upon successful completion. Because of this, participation in ARD is one of the most common ways that someone will have their DUI expunged.

In order to participate in ARD, you first need to be eligible, and then you must be selected for participation by the prosecution after applying. ARD generally requires that you are facing prosecution for the first time, and your prosecution is related to a non-violent, non-repeat offense. 

For DUIs, ARD may only allow you to enter if you have a general impairment charge (no drugs, <0.10% BAC) with no aggravating conditions.

Entry into ARD is entirely up to the discretion of the prosecution. Individuals like your arresting police officer and those affected by your crime can comment on your application. They can potentially persuade prosecutors to bar you from entering the program.

Your program requirements will vary once you’ve entered ARD. In most cases, you will be required to complete an alcohol education course, community service, and report to a supervision officer. 

If you complete the program, you will no longer face prosecution for your relevant charges. However, if you fail to complete the program, you will not get back any of the money you have spent, and your case will resume prosecution automatically. Furthermore, if you are prosecuted for a similar crime in the next 10 years, it will likely be treated as a repeat offense.

Once you have completed ARD, the court system may automatically expunge your DUI arrest and charges after 10 years if you have not faced prosecution since. The exact details of this arrangement will depend upon the county you are in and the specific judge or prosecutor handling your case.

Petitioning to Have Your DUI Expunged

As mentioned above, PA C.S. § 9122 allows for you to have a conviction expunged under three possible circumstances:

  • You are 70 or older and have not been arrested or prosecuted in 10 years since your last probation program ended.
  • You have been legally dead for at least three years.
  • You have been convicted for a “summary offense,” you have been free from arrest or prosecution for at least five years following conviction for that offense, and you successfully petition the court to grant your expungement.

A “summary offense” includes minor, non-violent crimes with no aggravating factors. This can potentially refer to a general impairment DUI.

Remember that you only have the right to petition the court to expunge your charge under the third option. You must be prepared to plead your case as to why you think the judge should grant your request. Consult with an experienced DUI attorney when formulating your petition so you’ll know what aspects the court will look to when weighing their decision.

Get Your DUI Expunged or Fight Your Conviction  With an Experienced DUI Lawyer in Pennsylvania

One of the biggest catches to your two options is that you may only have to face prosecution or get arrested to have your expungement request denied. Just think about all the times you have heard of someone being arrested or prosecuted despite not having anything to do with a crime being committed. Even if the prosecution fails to convict, there is a strong chance those proceedings will jeopardize your chances of expungement.

Because of this tremendous risk, your best option is to try to fight your DUI conviction in the first place. With an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney, your options might include pleading to a lesser charge, forcing the prosecution to drop certain evidence or charges, petitioning to have certain charges dismissed by the court, or seeking a “not guilty” verdict following a criminal trial.

Discuss what strategies you might have available during a free, no-obligation case review with Steven E. Kellis. Call (267) 314-6693 or contact us online now, and we will schedule you for an appointment as soon as we can.