How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Pennsylvania?
January 31, 2023
Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in all states, and in Pennsylvania, a conviction can remain on your record permanently unless you meet certain conditions for expungement. The penalties for a DUI conviction vary, depending on the number of prior convictions you have received.
State DUI laws prohibit operating or in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances. Pennsylvania defines “under the influence” in two ways:
- Impairment: Drivers incapable of safely driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances.
- Per se DUI: Proof of impairment is unnecessary to be considered under the influence. Those with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more are considered operating as a “per se” DUI. For commercial drivers, per se is 0.04 percent and 0.02 percent for bus drivers and those under age 21.
In Pennsylvania, DUI offenses are deemed “general impairment,” “high rate,” or “highest rate” of impairment for convictions and penalties, along with any previous convictions. Any DUI conviction triggers serious consequences that can affect every aspect of an individual’s life.
Criminal convictions are a matter of public record and will be included in a criminal background check, driving history, credit report, and insurance history. In Pennsylvania, DUI convictions are also reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Driver Registry. A conviction can also negatively affect:
- Employment: Employers routinely request background checks on job applicants as a condition of employment. Numerous employers hiring for positions that require driving company vehicles, interacting with children, or contracting with the government will not hire applicants with DUI convictions.
- Licensing: Professions requiring state licensing in order to work may not approve a license or revoke an exiting one, such as medical professionals, commercial drivers, dentists, police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, pilots, pharmacists, real estate agents, teachers, attorneys, and public servants.
- Housing: Renting a home may be difficult as most landlords and property managers request criminal background checks and credit reports on potential tenants, and often deny applicants with DUI convictions on their reports.
- Insurance: A DUI conviction can prevent obtaining affordable car insurance and can drastically raise existing policy rates, often doubling premiums.
A DUI conviction can negatively affect your personal, professional, and financial life for a lifetime, even first-time convictions.
In certain circumstances, a DUI conviction may be expunged from your record in Pennsylvania, typically if you successfully complete the state’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. The program is limited, and you must apply and be eligible in order to be accepted, as follows:
- You must have a clean record for at least the past 10 years.
- Your DUI offense caused no injuries or deaths.
- No passengers under age 14 were in the car when the incident occurred.
If accepted into the program, you will be supervised by the ARD department in the county where the DUI occurred. You must complete:
- An alcohol highway safety class approved by the state.
- An alcohol and drug evaluation.
- Treatment programs, such as substance abuse treatment, which is required if your BAC at the time of the accident was 0.16 percent or higher.
- Six to 12 months of court supervision.
Following successful completion of the program, you might be able to petition the court for expungement of your DUI conviction.
As of 2016, the court has the option to grant a DUI conviction “limited access” under certain conditions. This ruling prevents all but law enforcement and state agencies from seeing the conviction on background checks and other reports.
West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes Represents Clients With DUI Offenses
DUI convictions carry severe penalties. If you have been charged or convicted of a DUI offense, a West Chester criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes can help. Call us today at 610-431-7900 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients in Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County.