The state of Pennsylvania will keep a record of your DUI conviction for life unless you successfully appeal for relief, such as a records expungement.
Pennsylvania’s DUI laws are strict. First-time offenders face a fine of up to $5,000, a jail sentence lasting up to six months, and driver’s license revocation as long as one full year.
Most DUI penalties depend on:
- the measured level of intoxication,
- whether a crash occurred, and
- if tests confirmed the presence of any illegal drugs in your system.
However, your DUI conviction in Pennsylvania may dog you for decades.
A conviction can lead to raised insurance rates, nagging employment issues, a lower credit score, border delays while traveling abroad, and plenty of trouble renting a home or car. It is also on public record, so friends, family members, coworkers, and other interested parties will be able to find out about your DUI conviction.
If you’re in this position, you may wonder what your options are and how to proceed. The first step is to petition the court to expunge your criminal record. Even if you do not qualify for a full expungement, you can take steps to hide your Pennsylvania DUI records so that only law enforcement officers can view them (not the public).
Judges are not obligated to grant expungement requests, but our experienced DUI attorney may help you to make a stronger case that sways the odds in your favor. In some cases, we can bring up mitigating factors that modify how long a dui stays on your record.
Our Wyland Law Group DUI defense attorney will also help you apply to participate in a Pennsylvania program that can lead to the dismissal of your DUI case (prior to conviction and expungement of your DUI criminal record).
What is the Impact of Having a Pennsylvania DUI on your Criminal Record?
A DUI conviction is a public record for potential employers, landlords, credit reporting agencies, and insurance companies to access. Everyone can view it, from the coworkers at your job to the other parents on your child’s little league team.
Any member of the public can look up your criminal record and see the details of your DUI. That is, unless you successfully apply for expungement or limited access relief.
Higher Car Insurance Rates & Driving Records
Your DUI conviction will also appear in your driving history. For example, car insurance companies run your driver’s license number when you renew your car insurance plan or get a new one. Drivers with a DUI on their driving record may pay up to double the car insurance premiums of those with a clean slate.
Each insurance company decides how to factor in previous driving convictions and crashes into their rates. However, even one DUI on your driving record will place a financial burden on you for the rest of your life in the form of more expensive insurance.
Trouble with Employment
If a prospective employer runs a background check on you, your DUI conviction will appear in your criminal record. It may disqualify you from certain jobs because the company policy won’t allow hires for those with a DUI conviction. An employer might also want to avoid the expensive insurance premiums they would pay for employees with DUI convictions.
Pennsylvania DUI records can be professionally damaging to people who must drive or operate machinery in the course of their job, mainly due to the insurance costs. Other general workers may suffer for having a DUI on their criminal history, like people who work with children or a contractor for any government agency.
Issues Renting a Home or Car
Landlords frequently run a credit or background check on potential tenants, often denying a rental application because of a prior DUI conviction or other issues with a criminal history.
A car rental agency is also likely to check your driving history. It may decline to serve you or charge you a higher rate if you have a DUI conviction on your driving record.
Credit Score Woes
When a Pennsylvania judge convicts you of a DUI, the state will send a note to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This organization will update your Pennsylvania DUI records in the National Driver Register to include the details of your DUI.
Financial reporting agencies that determine your credit score check these NHTSA records thoroughly. They may change the credit number that impacts your financial dealings, such as whether you qualify for loans and what kinds of borrowing rates you can procure.
Hassles with International Travel
People with DUI convictions often find delays at immigration as border officials scrutinize their eligibility to enter another country. For example, many Americans have been prevented from entering Canada due to prior drunken driving offenses.
If you are planning to travel, check the DUI laws for immigrants and tourists at your destination country for an idea of whether you will be permitted entry. You may have to appeal your case ahead of time or pay a fee to be allowed to cross the border.
How Can I Avoid Getting a DUI on My Record in the First Place?
Aside from the obvious method of staying sober while driving, you have some other options.
If you refuse to take a law enforcement officer’s chemical test—the Breathalyzer—you can still be convicted of a crime. You will still be punished as if your blood alcohol content is registered at the highest tier of intoxication.
In the past, drivers with Pennsylvania DUI records may have been able to move to another state and fly under the radar. However, as court documents have migrated online, your Pennsylvania DUI records now follow you around the globe.
A DUI arrest is not the same as a conviction, though. You may be able to fight a drunken driving charge in court. This endeavor is more likely to succeed if you are represented by our experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney.
Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program
Another way to head off a DUI conviction is to apply for the Pennsylvania ARD program. The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is different in each county, but you may be more likely to qualify for it as a first-time, non-violent offender.
The court monitors ARD program participants carefully. These members must demonstrate their rehabilitation by performing community service, attending substance abuse classes, and paying restitution to victims, among other tasks.
Upon completing this type of ARD program, the state will dismiss your case and expunge your Pennsylvania DUI records. You will not be officially convicted, and the court will destroy legal records of the DUI case.
Our experienced Wyland Law Group DUI attorney can help you apply for an ARD program in your county and talk you through the process.
Can I Get an Expungement for a DUI in Pennsylvania?
Yes, under certain conditions.
Even if you do not qualify for a full expungement, you may hide your Pennsylvania DUI records from public scrutiny. You apply to have your DUI court records expunged when the court dismisses your case, or you successfully complete an ARD program. Other reasons apply in certain contexts, too.
Otherwise, you may apply to have your record expunged if you meet the requirements in section 9122 of Pennsylvania state law.
It is important to remember that a judge does not have an obligation to grant your expungement request, even if you are eligible. However, under a law that went into effect in 2016, you may also apply to place your criminal record on limited access status.
The 2016 law was specifically designed to aid qualified people whose criminal records prevented them from securing a job. Limited access status will not throw out your Pennsylvania DUI records like expungement, but it prevents the public at large from viewing your conviction.
Employers, loved ones, and landlords would not be able to look up your conviction on limited access status. However, the privilege will remain with police and state agencies, like the Department of Transportation.
How do I Get My DUI Record Expunged in Pennsylvania?
If you have been arrested for a DUI but not yet convicted, you may qualify for the ARD program in the county where the alleged offense occurred.
Successful completion of the ARD program will lead to the expungement of your record. You may also petition the court to dismiss your DUI charge on other grounds. Our experienced Wyland Law Group DUI attorney is available to help you weigh your options.
If you are trying to expunge an old conviction, you must meet the eligibility requirements laid out under Pennsylvania state law, section 9122. The section is long and tedious, so consult with our experienced DUI lawyer to discuss whether you qualify.
If you do not qualify for a full expungement, do not lose hope. You may still ask a judge to place your file on limited access status to prevent problems with finding work, securing housing, and paying affordable insurance in the future.
Contact Wyland Law Group for Help Expunging Your Pennsylvania DUI Records
If you have been charged with a DUI or you are interested in having past Pennsylvania DUI records expunged, call us today. We are one of the most experienced defense attorney teams in the state.
Contact Wyland Law Group at (412) 710-0013 and make the first step toward a better future.