Recently, the York Daily Record published an editorial advocating for changes in Pennsylvania law about Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD. The changes deal with how the law works with the state’s new ignition interlock law. If the state charged you with a minor criminal offense in York or anywhere in Central Pennsylvania, you should contact the law firm of Coover & Scheidemann. Our firm can help you determine if your case is appropriate for ARD.
Ignition Interlock Requirements
Recently, the Pennsylvania governor signed new legislation that requires first-time DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. Such devices are electronic systems that are intended to keep people who have sufficiently high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels from operating their vehicles. Essentially, the system requires would-be drivers to blow into the device to test their BAC levels which, if sufficiently high, will keep the ignition from starting. These devices also require periodic checks with drivers to ensure they do not consume alcohol while operating their vehicles.
According to the York Daily Record editorial, the devices described above have been extremely successful in lowering drunk driving incidents in the state. With the new legislation, first-time offenders can avoid lengthy suspensions of their drivers’ licenses, so they can continue being gainfully employed. However, the new law would not apply for those individuals accepted into the ARD program.
ARD Program Exempt from Ignition Interlock Law
Pennsylvania has instituted ARD as a pre-trial program that serves as an alternative to typical prosecution. ARD’s aim is to rehabilitate first-time offenders of certain minor offenses, including DUI. ARD allows the state to dispose promptly of criminal charges and mitigates the need for costly proceedings in state court. It also enables first-time offenders who are admitted into ARD with the opportunity to exit the program without a criminal record.
Upon an offender’s admission into the ARD program, the court will suspend the prosecution of the case for around one year, during which the offender has to complete certain tasks. These tasks may include completion of community service, alcohol driving or substance abuse courses or counseling, payment of restitution, etc. When the offender completes the tasks, he or she may then ask the court to dismiss the case remove the charges from his or her criminal record.
However, individuals who are accepted into ARD are not covered by the new ignition interlock law. Such individuals may still face lengthy suspensions of their licenses (up to ninety days). The York Daily Record editorial argues that the new law should apply to all first-time offenders, including those offenders who are admitted into the ARD program. Because the new ignition interlock law will not apply to first-time offenders accepted into ARD, some defendants may choose to stay out of ARD altogether and plead guilty to avoid a suspension of license.
The Morning Call, a Pennsylvania news publication, also stated that 25 other states have passed laws that require ignition interlocks for all individuals who are convicted of DUIs, but Pennsylvania’s ignition interlock program was not as strict as those states. The Morning Call observed that the new law did not apply to drivers who enter an ARD program to get rid of a DUI conviction.
The ARD program may allow certain first-time offenders to avoid jail time for minor offenses. If you have been charged by a Pennsylvania district attorney with a minor offense such as DUI or possession in York, you should contact the attorneys at the law firm of Coover & Scheidemann by calling (717) 885-5830 for a low-cost initial consultation. We have years of defense experience representing clients in criminal cases and can provide you with advice on a strategy for defense, including the benefits of admission into the ARD program. You can also reach us by submitting our online message form.