DUIs and ARDs in Lancaster County

going-bob-Lancaster-County-Pennsylvania_ARD_DUIBy Robert M. Going, Jr., Attorney

When people are pulled over for Driving Under the Influence or DUI, their lives can change very quickly. In just a few moments an otherwise law-abiding citizen can face arrest, prosecution, fines, license suspension, state-mandated safety classes, probation, time in treatment centers, or even prison.

Getting charged with a DUI can affect every part of life. In Pennsylvania, even the most lenient DUI sentences include fines and probation.

And while some people believe that refusing to take a chemical test is a way out of a DUI, that’s not always a good strategy. Pennsylvania has an Implied Consent Law, meaning that anyone using Pennsylvania roads agreed to tests of their breath, blood, or urine. Refusal to submit to such a test carries an automatic one-year license suspension, and that penalty increases for each subsequent refusal.

ARD: An Option for First Time Offenders

While our state is tough on impaired drivers, Pennsylvania law can provide some leniency if certain conditions prevail. If the driver has a clean record, carries insurance, has not been charged with a DUI in the past ten years, and has not damaged property or caused injury to others, they may be able to participate in the first offenders’ program, also known as the ARD program. However, drivers with passengers under the age of 14 will not be eligible for the ARD program.

ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. The most significant advantage of ARD probation is that it is one of the only ways to avoid getting a record. After completing the requirements of the program, and by avoiding additional charges, ARD participants can eventually request records to be expunged. When this happens, all agencies are ordered to destroy all records of the arrest. The State Police who keep the rap sheet, local police, and the courts, will also destroy those records.

ARD_DUI_Law_Lancaster_PA

However, the ARD program does not allow participants to get off without any punishment. In the ARD program, a person is subject to six to 12 months of probation. The program participants must also attend mandatory Highway Safety classes. Depending on the blood alcohol level taken at the time of arrest, the participant may lose their license for some time. The ARD program also includes a cost of $1,500 to $2,000.

Additionally, for those who participate in the ARD program, any DUI charges in the next ten years will be treated as second offenses. So, while the ARD is an excellent program to help first-time offenders deal with DUI charges, it also has real and lasting consequences.

That’s why it’s important for people who believe they were wrongly charged to understand that an ARD is not free of consequences. It is not a good idea to take an offer for an ARD because it is the easiest thing to do. If you or someone you know believes that they should not have been charged with a DUI, contact a DUI attorney at Going and Plank to discuss your options.

ARDs are not Always Automatic or Easy

Participation in the ARD program is considered a type of lenient probation and is offered at the discretion of the Lancaster District Attorney’s office. This means that public prosecutors must agree to let the defendant into the ARD program. In addition, a judge must then grant final approval, and can even refuse an ARD. The judge also decides the length of the ARD, which can last up to two years.

That’s why it is wise to hire an experienced ARD attorney to represent you. A well-reasoned argument with adequate support and evidence is needed to apply for admission into the ARD program successfully.

What Happens if an ARD is Denied? 

If the prosecutor denies the ARD, the defendant (or their lawyer) can request that the District Attorney reconsider. An experienced DUI/ARD attorney will submit a letter to the DA that outlines the reasons their client should be in the ARD program. Sometimes additional measures can be taken, such as requesting that the arresting officer put in a good word or providing character references to remind the DA of the accused’s value to their family or community.

ARD_DUI_OPTIONS_LAncaster_County_Pennsylvania

DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania

DUI penalties in Pennsylvania are severe. Like most states in the U.S., Pennsylvania has become less and less tolerant of Driving Under the Influence over the years. Even less tolerance is shown to drivers under the age of 21. While 21+ drivers can have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of up to .08%, drivers under 21 can be charged with a BAC of just .02%.

The following charts outline the state’s penalties for DUIs. In Pennsylvania, penalties increase as BAC levels increase.

DUI Penalties for Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC

No prior DUI offenses

  • $300 fine
  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Up to six months of probation
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment when ordered

One prior DUI offense

  • $300 to $2,500 fine
  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • 12-month license suspension
  • Five days – six months of prison
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment when ordered

One-year ignition interlock

Two or more prior DUI offenses

  • $500 to $5,000 fine
  • 2nd-degree misdemeanor
  • 12-month license suspension
  • Ten days – two years of prison
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One-year ignition interlock

DUI Penalties for High BAC penalties (.10 to .159% BAC)

No prior DUI offenses

  • $500 to $5,000 fine
  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • 12-month license suspension
  • 48 hours – six months of prison
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment when ordered

One prior DUI offense

  • $750 to $5,000 fine
  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • 12-month license suspension
  • 30 days – six months of prison
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One-year ignition interlock

Two or more prior DUI offenses

  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine
  • 1st-degree misdemeanor
  • 18-month license suspension
  • 90 days – five years of prison
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One-year ignition interlock

Three or more prior DUI offenses

  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine
  • 1st-degree misdemeanor
  • 18-month license suspension
  • One – five years of prison
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One-year ignition interlock

DUI Penalties for the Highest BAC (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance

No prior DUI offenses

  • $1,000 to $5,000 fine
  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • 12-month license suspension
  • 72 hours – six months of prison
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment when ordered

One prior DUI offense

  • $1,500 to $10,00 fine
  • 1st-degree misdemeanor
  • 18-month license suspension
  • 90 days – five years of prison
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One-year ignition interlock

Two or more prior DUI offenses

  • $2,500 to $10,000
  • 1st-degree misdemeanor
  • 18-month license suspension
  • One – five years of prison
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One-year ignition interlock

Don’t go it Alone.

Retain one of Lancaster County’s Best DUI Attorneys

DUI penalties can be severe. These charges can negatively affect every part of your life. They can wreck your finances and even your future. Pennsylvania’s ARD program is often a good choice for otherwise law-abiding first-time offenders to minimize the impact of a one-time mistake. To speak with a Lancaster County DUI lawyer about ARD or DUI representation, contact us to schedule a case evaluation.

Theresa Wagner

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