Can I expunge my driving record in Pennsylvania?

In most situations, the answer is no.  In order to be eligible to expunge a record, the law must expressly permit it, meaning a person cannot simply file an expungement petition, appear before a judge, and explain to the judge why the person needs to have a record expunged.  Many people believe that a judge has the ability to order an expungement whenever the judge deems that it is appropriate.  Regrettably, a judge’s power is limited by Pennsylvania law, and the law only allows a judge to expunge records in certain circumstances.  Judges are not permitted to consider a person’s need for expungement unless the law allows for the record to be expunged.

Expungement of Summary Offenses

Pennsylvania law allows for the expungement of summary convictions if a person has been free of arrests and prosecution for 5 years.  (See 18 Pa.C.S.A. 9122(b)(3)).  Most traffic offenses like speeding and stop sign violations are summary offenses.  Many people mistakenly believe that because the expungement law allows for the expungement of summary offenses that a points or suspensions can be expunged or removed from a driving record.  Regrettably, the expungement law does NOT allow for the expungement of a driving record.  The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will not expunge points or license suspensions from a person’s Pennsylvania driving record even if the person obtained an expungement order of the summary traffic offense.

Limited Expungements of Driving Records in Pennsylvania

Expungement of a  driving record is permitted to remove a suspension related to Underage Drinking under 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308 if the offender has turned 21 and has “successfully served the sentence,” which normally means paid the fine, served the period of suspension, and also restored the driving privilege.  If those requirements are met, then subsection (a)(3) of 9122 of the Crimes Code allows for the removal of the suspension notation from the Pennsylvania driving record. In order to expunge the Underage Drinking suspension, a person must file an expungement petition with the Court of Common Pleas in the county in which the offense was filed.

Under section 1534 of the Vehicle Code, people that participated in ARD for a DUI offense are also eligible to expunge the notation from the driving record if the person did not have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) at the time of the offense and the person did not have his or her operating privileges revoked during the 10-year period of time for being a “habitual offender” under section 1542.  Normally, in order to expunge a record, an expungement petition must be filed with the court.  However, the expungement of an ARD-related suspension is an exception to the general rule.  Section 1534 required PennDOT to expunge the driving record without the filing of an expungement petition.  A person that completes ARD must normally file an expungement petition to facilitate the destruction of the criminal record, but section 1534 is different in that PennDOT is ordered to expunge the driving record upon expiration of the ten-year period and cannot require an expungement order from the court.