I have previously written about the advantages of Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (“ARD”) for someone charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. In summary, those primary advantages are: (1) no jail time, (2) a reduced driver’s license suspension and (3) a clean criminal record. There are some requirements DUI defendants must meet to qualify for the ARD program (such as having a valid driver’s license, no prior DUI convictions, etc.) but, until a few years ago, there was no cap on the blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of the Defendant. That changed a few years back in Lancaster County when the District Attorney’s Office barred defendants with a BAC of 0.24% or higher from entry into ARD (the legal limit for a driver’s BAC is 0.08%).
During the last year, the BAC cap for ARD in Lancaster County has been raised to 0.30%. But there is a catch: ARD candidates with a BAC between the old limit, 0.24%, and the new limit, 0.30%, are subject to a review panel, where representatives from the District Attorney’s Office will individually analyze each case to determine if ARD is appropriate. The District Attorney’s Office makes it clear that they reserve the right to refuse a defendant’s admission into ARD based on its own discretion. As a result, those DUI defendants in the review panel’s range will have to make their case to the District’s Attorney’s Office with no guarantee of admission into ARD. Although this change will potentially allow more people to qualify, there is one disadvantage. While the decision from the panel is pending, the defendant will not be able to begin to complete the requirements of the ARD process (i.e. community service, alcohol highway safety classes, etc.), which will push back the date the defendant will finish ARD.
While the best way to avoid these issues is to avoid drinking and driving, it is clear that when faced with DUI charges, it is important to understand the process. As a result, I strongly suggest consulting with a qualified attorney who can properly assess your individual situation and guide you through the necessary court proceedings and the ARD process if you qualify.
Matthew Grosh is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Villanova University and practices in a variety of areas including DUI/ARD.