In Pennsylvania, you can get a DUI expunged from your record by completing the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. ARD is meant to be an alternative to the traditional trial process. When you opt for the ARD program, you will not need to plead guilty to the charges. A court will drop the charges once you have completed probation.
However, not everyone will be eligible for ARD. The program is open to first -time, non-violent offenders, and for DUI offenders who have not taken part in the ARD program in the past 10 years.
In addition, if you have caused serious injury or a fatality, or if a judge has convicted you of a DUI in the past 10 years, you will not qualify. You will also not qualify for the ARD program if even on your first offense there was a minor passenger in the car (aged 14 or under).
Should you not be a suitable candidate for ARD, though, then depending on your blood alcohol count (BAC), there may be other alternatives you can pursue. A lawyer can discuss these with you and explain the positive and negative aspects of the available options.
Applying for ARD
To apply for the program, you must first waive your rights to a preliminary hearing and then complete an application form. Next, you must fill out an information form and submit it to the applicable office. You can complete the form yourself, or you can ask a lawyer to complete it for you. A lawyer can help you to avoid mistakes that may get your application rejected.
Once you have finished the ARD program, you can then petition a judge or attorney general and ask that they remove the conviction from your record; you do this through the clerk of courts in the area that you live.
However, the method of petition varies. You may have to complete a form or write a letter and then sign an affidavit.
When they expunge your record, you can legally tell employers you have a clean criminal record, and the DUI should not be visible in public searches. However, it will remain on federal and police records.
If you fail to complete the requirements, your time on the ARD program will end, and you will face a trial for the original charges.
Should they reject your ARD application, you can ask for a reconsideration.
Other Requirements of ARD
There are other requirements that you will need to complete if you want to remove or expunge the DUI charge from your records. These include:
- Community service
- Up to 12 months’ probation
- Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation, which determines whether to send you for further drug and alcohol assessment.
- Attending Alcohol Highway Safety School (AHSS)
- Passing alcohol/drug testing
- There are also costs associated with ARD, such as court and administrative costs, transaction fees, and lawyer fees.
In addition, a judge may impose extra requirements and conditions depending on your individual case. There may also be other terms stipulated depending on the county of Pennsylvania you live.
The costs vary, but various estimates show the average cost for the ARD program is $2,500.
Why You Should Speak to a Lawyer
An expungement is not an option for everyone. However, if it is your first offense, your record is otherwise clean, and you are attempting to put the DUI behind you, then you may qualify for the program.
There are many positives to getting a DUI expunged. You will keep your record clean, you will not risk jail time, and you will either not lose your license or at least limit the amount of time you are banned from driving.
However, expungement may not always be a straightforward process, and it can be time-consuming. This is where you can benefit from hiring a lawyer. A lawyer can remove any stress you may be experiencing by handling the expungement for you. They can prepare your expungement, complete any forms, and follow it up should there be any delays along the way. By hiring a lawyer, you may also avoid appearing in court during the expungement process.
If you want to move on and start again with a clean record, call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. today at (610) 680-7842. We offer a free case review to discuss your options, and once you become a client, you can reach us anytime through email, text, phone, even social media.