1st offense in PA

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1st offense in PA

i was arrested about a month ago for a dui in pennsylvania, my bac was .204, but that has not been confirmed to myself or my lawyer, i hit a parked car and no one was injured and minimal damage to the parked car. this is my first offense and only thing on my record. am i still eligible for ARD, and should i expect to serve jail time?

Asked on June 24, 2009 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Only first time DUI offenders may be eligible for the ARD program, however, just because you are facing a first offense DUI charge does not mean that you are automatically admitted into the ARD program.  To get accepted into the program you must be recommended to it by the district attorney in your county and then approved and authorized by the courts.  

The DA will make the recommendation based on the facts of the case and a thorough background investigation that will be conducted.  Part of this background investigation will be the district attorney notifying the victims of the DUI (if any) of his intent to recommend the ARD program for the defendant and to seek any feedback/objections if they so wish to file them.

If there are no objections generally the DA will notify the defendant that he intends on recommending the ARD program and gives the defendant a court date to appear at a hearing.  At this hearing the defendant will appear with his attorney, the victims (if any), the DA (or a representative).  At this hearing the courts will officially determine whether or not the defendant is eligible for the DUI ARD program.  

Here are the general guidelines that they are looking at when deciding whether or not to allow you into the program:

· No prior charges within a 10 year time period of the date of the current charge.
· No accident occurred in connection with the DUI offense and resulted in a serious bodily injury or death.
· There was not a passenger 14 years of age or younger in the car.

If those criteria are met and there are no substantial objections from the victims generally you will be accepted into the ARD program.

Based on the facts as you presented them, I'd say that you stand a good chance of getting into the ARD program.  However, just because you are eligible for the program does not mean you should automatically accept it.  If your PA DUI attorney thinks that you stand a good chance of having the charges against you dismissed, it may not make sense for you to accept participation in the ARD program as an alternative to going to trial to fight the charge.  If you are facing a first offense DUI charge and accept admittance into the ARD program versus going to trial and at anytime in the future you get arrested on another DUI charge, you will be charged as a repeat or habitual offender.  The ARD program is basically one-time, you only get one chance at the program, so if you stand a good chance of winning your case, you need to talk with your lawyer and consider all of your options before making your decision.

If you are accepted into the ARD program, it is very similar to being on probation for your DUI.  You will not have to serve any jail time for the DUI charge, but you will receive supervision for a period of two years while you are in the program.  If you complete the required conditions of the ARD program, the criminal DUI charges against you will be dropped.  It will be as if you were never charged with DUI and you’ll have a clear record.

However, if you violate the terms of your ARD program, your original DUI charges will be reinstated and you will have to go to court.  You’ll be prosecuted on the original charges and you will be sentenced if you are convicted of the original DUI charge.

As to your second question, if you do not receive ARD, then with a BAC of .204 you will face a minimum mandatory jail time of 72 hours.


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