Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances is an offense in Pennsylvania. Getting a DUI expunged means that a court orders your DUI to be removed from public records and public court files. After an expungement, the record of your DUI is only kept internally for reference by police and prosecutors.
You can find the official definition in Title 18, §9102 of the Pennsylvania Statutes. It defines ‘expunge’ in part as “to remove information so that there is no trace or indication that such information existed,” and “to eliminate all identifiers which may be used to trace the identity of an individual, allowing remaining data to be used for statistical purposes.”
Once your DUI is expunged, you can legitimately tell a potential employer, leasing agent, or car insurance company that you have a clean record.
Getting Your Record Expunged
For a person with a DUI conviction, getting a DUI expunged mean participating in a unique program. A common approach to expungement is to go through an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD program.
An ARD program lets you avoid jail time for your DUI and includes a number of interventions designed at rehabilitating first-time offenders. An ARD program may include:
- Treatment and rehabilitation
- Safe driving school
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Community service
- Reporting to court and a probation officer
- Payment of all fees
- Other requirements assigned in your case
An ARD program can last for up to two years. Once you complete the terms drawn up in your ARD agreement, you can petition the court and ask for an expungement of the DUI. The terms of an ARD agreement are strict, and a breach of them can lead to you facing the original charges.
Not everyone can qualify for an ARD program. There are several reasons they may exclude an individual, such as:
- A prior DUI
- Causing an injury during your DUI incident
- Driving a minor passenger at the time
A DUI defense lawyer may be able to tell you if you qualify for an ARD or if it is otherwise possible to have you DUI expunged.
Does Getting a DUI Expunged Mean an Easier Life?
Having a DUI visible on your records can have a negative effect on many areas of your life. They include:
A prospective employer may choose not to hire you if they see a DUI on your record. When a court expunges your DUI, you may not need to report it to a new employer. A DUI could also affect your ability to obtain a state professional license.
Leasing a Property
Some landlords refuse to rent to tenants with a record. Having your record cleared can remove this limitation and may make it easier to find a new property to rent.
People with a DUI on their record may be forced to pay higher car insurance rates.
An expungement of your DUI is an opportunity to move on. You can draw a line under your past actions, address any problems you had that may have contributed to the DUI, and you can get alcohol or drug treatment if you need it.
How a Lawyer Can Help With Expungement
Although expungement is beneficial, you need to follow the ARD process correctly if you want to leave a conviction behind you and move forward with your life. A lawyer can assist you by:
- Evaluating your case and helping you apply for an ARD program
- Making sure you do not miss any legal deadlines or requirements of your ARD program
- Petitioning the court upon completion of your ARD program for DUI expungement
If you are denied entry into an ARD program, you still may be able to fight your DUI charges in court. This could be your only remaining option to avoid DUI penalties, including having a DUI conviction on your public records. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you challenge a DUI conviction in court.
Speak to a DUI Legal Team Today
A DUI is not something that you want on your record. It can be costly professionally and socially.
If you are facing a DUI charge, you are not alone. A DUI lawyer may be able to help you make an informed decision about the next steps, advocate for the outcome you want, or represent you in court.
McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. represents people facing DUI charges in Montgomery County, PA and nearby areas. For a free consultation on your case, call us at (610) 680-7842 today.