First DUI Offense
A first-time DUI conviction carries with it criminal and administrative consequences. This means you could face expensive fines and jail time, as well as license suspension or revocation, among other penalties. If this is your first criminal conviction, you will also end up with a criminal record that may affect your opportunities to obtain housing, employment, financial support and other items in the future.
It is due to these sometimes excessive consequences that the state of Pennsylvania offers an alternative form of justice for first-time DUI offenders: the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program.
Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)
The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program is a pretrial diversion program aimed at giving a second chance to individuals facing their first DUI charges. There are three basic requirements that you must meet to be eligible for the ARD program:
- This is your first DUI charge, or is at least the first DUI offense within the past 10 years
- No one can have suffered injuries or died due to your drunk driving
- You did not have a minor under the age of 14 in your car
If you meet these requirements, and we do not believe we can get the court to dismiss your charges, we will quickly move to have you placed in the ARD program. By participating in and successfully completing the ARD program, you will earn a dismissal of the charges against you.
What You Can Expect While You Are in the ARD Program
The court can choose to implement a variety of conditions during your ARD program, all of which are geared toward rehabilitating you and getting you back on your feet and back on the road. These conditions include:
- Alcohol highway safety school course
- Restitution, court costs and other financial fees
- Restricted driving privileges or short-term license suspension
- Court-ordered treatment program
- Community services
It is important to note, however, that failure to follow through on any of the conditions of your ARD program will result in a reinstatement of regular court proceedings against you, along with a waiver of your right to a speedy trial. Speak to your DUI defense lawyer about whether the ARD program makes sense for your situation.
Additional Defense Strategies for 1st DUI Offenders
The first item we will pursue is a complete dismissal of the charges against you. To obtain this result, we will analyze everything to identify missing elements or loopholes in the prosecution’s case against you, including:
- Did the police have probable cause to pull you over in the first place?
- Did the police administer any tests, such as the Breathalyzer or sobriety tests, appropriately?
- Are there inaccuracies in the police report?
- Did the police read you your Miranda rights upon your arrest?
- Are there any issues with any of the evidence the police gathered?
If we cannot get the court to dismiss your case based on the above, and we all agree that the ARD program is not the best choice for you, we will aggressively defend your rights at trial. Our former experience as prosecutors gives us an advantage during case preparation and while in court.