Is My DUI Public Record?
If you have been convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering if your conviction is a matter of public record such that your employer, your neighbor, or any other interested person can access. The short answer to this question is yes. Court proceedings, including criminal convictions, are generally matters of public record. Therefore, theoretically any person could access that information at any time for any reason.
Criminal convictions in Pennsylvania, including convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are matters of public record that anyone can access information about by either searching online or walking down to the local courthouse and checking with the Clerk of Court to see if you have a criminal history. There is simply no way around this; criminal convictions are information that Pennsylvania has designated as public and they are not confidential at the time of arrest, a trial, sentencing, or even after a sentence has been served.
Circumstances in Which a Criminal Conviction Can Be Expunged in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law does provide very limited circumstances under which an individual’s criminal record can be expunged, or sealed from public disclosure. This law allows for the expungement of someone’s criminal record if: (i) the person is 70 years old and has not been arrested or prosecuted for ten years following a prior release from prison or probation; (ii) a person has been dead for three years; or (iii) in certain circumstances involving summary offenses. Summary offenses are minor offenses that carry relatively minor penalties. Unfortunately, driving under the influence is not a summary offense, as explained in a helpful bulletin on the issue prepared by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
When a DUI Can Be Expunged in Pennsylvania
If an individual has participated in Pennsylvania’s ARD program (which is typically only available for first time offenders), you may be eligible to have information regarding your DUI offense expunged from any court and/or agency records. In order to have the record expunged, a petition must be filed with the court in the county in which you were arrested and prosecuted for a DUI and participated in the ARD program. A judge must then approve the petition and enter an order directing all the appropriate agencies to remove the records of your DUI from their individual agency records. Once this process has been accomplished, only then will information regarding your DUI be removed so that no member of the public can access it. However, if you did not participate in the county’s ARD program, expungment will only be available to you if your DUI related in a not guilty (nonconviction).