We have previously written that one of the most important advantages of the Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition option when facing a DUI is that it will not count as a criminal conviction. Further, once you complete the ARD program, you can have the charges completely expunged from your record. Some of my clients ask me why it is so important to have a clean criminal record (and by clean, I mean having no convictions for misdemeanors or felonies). The following is a list of areas to illustrate how having a criminal record can have a negative impact on your life:
Employers can generally use your criminal record as a determining factor in hiring and firing, and most employers prefer not to employ those with criminal records. An ARD is no guarantee that the charges or conduct which supported the charges will not be a problem in employment, but there is no question that it is preferable to a conviction or guilty plea that cannot be expunged.
A criminal record can make it difficult for you to travel outside of the country. Some countries refuse to allow entry and others require you to deal with red tape, such as filling out waivers, releases, and other documents, before they will let you enter.
A criminal record could also affect your ability to live in a particular place or building. This is not the general rule, but some condominium and planned communities have restrictions preventing sales of real property to persons with criminal records.
A criminal record can also have a negative impact on your credit score. Primarily, the impact comes from the employment problems discussed above limiting or reducing your income, but it could also impact your ability to obtain certain loans, especially those subsidized with government funds.
In Pennsylvania, it is possible to research the criminal court docket in almost every criminal case, including ARD cases. Thus, anyone could go online and find a person's case, the charges against the person and the outcome of the case. Most people are not comfortable with that information being so public.
If you are currently going through custody or a divorce proceeding, this could have a negative impact on your position.
There are various other effects a criminal record can have on your life. If you are charged with DUI, consider speaking with an attorney who can guide you through the process of determining whether you qualify for the ARD program.