The Pennsylvania legislature recognized that people who make mistakes that result in a misdemeanor conviction should not have to carry that error in judgment around for the rest of their lives. As a result, it passed the so-called “Clean Slate” law, which allows individuals with certain convictions to limit access to them when certain individuals or entities — such as potential employers, landlords or others — run criminal background checks. People with drunk driving convictions here in the state may be able to make use of this law if they meet the qualifications and go through the process.

It should be noted upfront that law enforcement agencies, state licensing agencies and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Resources will still have access to any records for which an individual is granted a petition for limited access. Qualifications under the law include those with convictions for misdemeanors. The charge could have been upgraded, but the person in question must not have received a sentence of more than five years in prison.

The last criteria essentially removes individuals convicted of felonies from qualifying to use this law. In fact, the law also outlines numerous specific offenses that will prevent certain individuals from access to this new law. Time limitations also exist. Certain convictions must be older than 20 years, others older than 15 years and still others older than 10 years. 

While the state legislature wanted to make moving forward from past mistakes easier, it also wanted to make sure that public safety does not suffer. The criteria that he or she must meet in order for such a petition to receive approval from a judge are specific, and before any Pennsylvania resident attempts to make use of this law to limit access to a drunk driving conviction, it would be a good idea to discuss the situation with a criminal defense attorney. A thorough review of the situation, including an individual’s criminal history, must be done prior to filing a petition.