To Expunge or Not to Expunge?: The Failure of Pennsylvania Courts to Expunge Your DUI ARD Arrest Record
Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 320 is entitled Expungement Upon Successful Completion of ARD Program. This rule is applicable when you successfully complete the ARD program whether it be for a DUI or other charge(s). Rule 320 states "when the judge orders the dismissal of the charges against the defendant, the judge shall also order the expungement of the defendant's arrest record...." This means that your criminal record should be automatically expunged when you complete the ARD program. You shouldn't be forced to pay an attorney to file an expungement petition on your behalf, you shouldn't be forced to pay court costs for filing fees and certified copies, and you shouldn't be forced to wait months before your record is clean. The reality is that you will be forced to do all of the above. Most counties do not follow Rule 320. Your ARD record will NOT be expunged when you successfully complete the ARD program in the counties that I practice law. You will still have a criminal record when you are done the ARD program. When an employer or other government agency performs a background check, the background check will list your charges with the notation "ARD" next to them. Even though ARD is technically not a criminal conviction, this may still have negative consequences for you and your job search. If you want a clean record you will need to hire an attorney to file an expungement petition. You will have to wait months for the process to be completed. The judge must sign off on your petition and order your record expunged. To complicate matters further, the expungement rules have recently changed. You must attach a Pennsylvania state background check to your expungement petition. You must order this background check from the Pennsylvania State Police. This will take an additional 4 weeks.