According to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, 2018 saw almost 50,000 arrests for driving under the influence.
DUI penalties are harsh, especially for habitual offenders. However, Pennsylvania has a unique solution for first-time offenders with no prior history of criminal behavior.
How a DUI creates hardship
The consequences for a misdemeanor DUI are almost always more than simple inconveniences. Pennsylvania recognizes three levels of DUI charges based on the offender’s blood alcohol content, and the penalties escalate as the BAC percentage increases.
The sentences for the first DUI conviction usually include fines that range from $300-$5,000 and completion of alcohol highway safety school. Judges also have the discretion to order any offender to attend an alcohol treatment program.
Individuals with a BAC at or over .08% and under 1.0% generally face court probation for six months. However, those arrested with a BAC of 1.0% or higher could spend as little as 48 hours in jail or as much as six months in prison. Offenders in the upper two categories of DUI may also lose their driving privileges for a year.
How ARD aids recovery
First-time DUI offenders in Cumberland County who have no prior criminal history may qualify for an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. A court can effect an ARD before the case goes to trial, and the offender does not have to plead guilty before entering the program. The procedural requirements for a DUI can vary but typically include alcohol rehabilitation or mental health treatment, monetary compensation and community service.
Those eligible for the ARD may still face a license suspension, but the maximum term is 60 days instead of 12 months. Furthermore, after the individual successfully completes the program, the court typically dismisses the charges and seals the arrest record.