What Do I Do If I Get a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in Pennsylvania?

Man with drink being handed car keys
If you are facing a first offense DUI charge in Pennsylvania you may be want to consider an alternative program to the traditional criminal court case and that is known as the ARD program. ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.

The ARD program was implemented by Pennsylvania to accelerate the court process in criminal cases such as first offense DUI’s that would not jeopardize the general public’s safety if the defendant were released back into society.

Pennsylvania saves time and court resources and the defendant can have their DUI expunged from their criminal record two years after they are accepted into the ARD program.  Please contact Spadea & Associates, LLC to assist you in getting the record expunged.

Only first time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania may be eligible for the ARD program. The district attorney makes the decision as to whether or not a defendant will be admitted into the ARD program. Just because you are facing a first offense DUI charge does not mean that you are automatically admitted into the ARD program.

The new penalties enacted in February 2004 fall into a new three tier punishment system for DUI’s throughout Pennsylvania.

Tier 1: Tier 1 is considered General Impairment. General impairment is meant to describe those with BAC levels between .08% and .099%, and no property damage resulting from the DUI offense.

1st Offense DUI: No loss of driving privileges, six months maximum of probation, fine of $300 dollars, attend and complete safe driving classes, complete a drug and  alcohol evaluation, complete a 30 minute CRN evaluation and  complete 8 to 16 hours of community service .

Tier 2: Tier 2 is considered a high rate of blood alcohol. This is for those with BAC levels between .10% and .159% (the BAC level must be measured within 2 hours of actually operating the vehicle), and those with resultant property damage or personal injury from the DUI offense. Even those with General Impairment BAC levels (less than .10%) can be placed in the Tier 2 category if there was property damage or personal injury.

1st Offense DUI: driver’s license suspended for 12 months (occupational license eligibility after 60 days), jail time from 48 hours to 6 months, fine between $500 – $5,000, attend and complete safe driving classes, complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, complete a 30 minute CRN evaluation, complete 16 to 32 hours of community service.

Tier 3: Tier 3 is reserved for the highest BAC level offenders. A Blood Alcohol Concentration of .16% or greater that is measured within 2 hours of operating a motor vehicle will land you in a Tier 3 status. Anyone who refuses to submit to a chemical test and have their BAC measured will be placed into Tier 3 status as well. In addition to a high BAC, any illegal drug will also land you in Tier 3 status.  Note if you have a prescription drug without a valid prescription it is considered an illegal drug.

If you are found guilty of first offense DUI you will have your  driver’s license suspended for 12 months (occupational license eligibility after 60 days), jail time between 72 hours and 6 months, fines between $1,000 – $5,000, attend and complete safe driving classes, complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, complete a 30 minute CRN evaluation and complete 32 to 64 hours of community service.

What happens after I get my preliminary hearing court date?

If your attorney cannot get the DUI charges dismissed you should waive your preliminary hearing and submit your ARD application as soon as possible and within three weeks of your arraignment date. Usually five weeks after the preliminary hearing date you have an Arraignment which is also waived unless you receive notice from us that your ARD application has been denied.

A few weeks after the scheduled arraignment date, you will be sent a certified mailing advising of the back-up pre-trial conference date (usually six months after the arraignment date) and the name of the judge assigned to the case.   The reason why the pre-trial conference date is set so far in the future is to allow sufficient time for the District Attorney’s office to review the ARD application.  Generally, ARD hearings are scheduled anywhere from 3 to 6 months after the arraignment date.  If the ARD hearing is not scheduled or if ARD is rejected, you must come to court for the Pre-Trial conference.

After you arraignment date if you do not receive a removal letter from the District Attorney,  you should try to complete 8 hours of community service as well as complete the drug and alcohol evaluation  and CRN evaluation, and safe driving course  prior to your ARD hearing date and pay all the fines if you can.  If you do receive a removal letter contact Spadea & Associates, LLC immediately.  If you cannot pay the total fines by the ARD hearing date you can get on a payment plan.

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