The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has created a pre-trial alternative to traditional prosecution called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD. The Pennsylvania legislature established the ARD program by enacting 234 Pa. Code Rule Chapter 3, and its primary purpose is for rehabilitating first-time offenders of certain crimes. Further, the ARD program facilitates the prompt disposal of criminal charges and eliminates the need for costly court proceedings. One issue that may come up with entry into an ARD program is that if the individual re-offends and commits a second or subsequent DUI, prior entry into ARD may count as a prior offense and trigger the requirement for an Ignition Interlock System under a recently-enacted ignition interlock law. If the state charged you with a criminal offense in York or anywhere in the Central Pennsylvania area, you should contact the law firm of Coover & Associates to help you decide if your case is appropriate for ARD.
Ignition Interlock Law in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania legislature passed the Ignition Interlock Law to improve safety on state highways, reduce instances of repeat DUI offenses, and reduce fatalities and crashes on roads. Under the ignition interlock law, a person whom the state convicts of a second or succeeding DUI crime must install an interlock device on each vehicle they own, lease, or operate for a year. The law requires individuals to serve at least a year of driver’s license suspension before becoming eligible for installing an ignition interlock device.
An ignition interlock device is a system that is placed on a motor vehicle to prevent individuals who meet the requisite blood alcohol content (BAC) level from driving the car. The system requires individuals to blow into the ignition interlock device before turning on the vehicle ignition. If the interlock system detects alcohol at sufficient levels, it will keep the car from starting. Additionally, the device will prompt the driver to blow periodically into the device to ensure that driver does not consume alcohol while driving.
Under the ignition interlock law, individuals who commit a second or succeeding offense before September 30, 2003, may choose to serve one more year of license suspension instead of obtaining an ignition interlock device. If the offender has an income below 200% of the federal poverty line, he or she may be eligible for an exemption under the law. The exemption permits the person to have the device installed in one vehicle only.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will issue a special driver’s license for those required to have an ignition interlock. If that person is stopped by law enforcement, they must be able to show that the vehicle is equipped with the device. If the state convicts that person of driving a vehicle that does not have the device, then he or she may be subject to incarceration and fines. For a first offense, the state will extend the period required for ignition interlock for another year. For a second and succeeding offense, the state will suspend that person’s driver’s license for another year.
The ARD program may be an excellent opportunity to avoid jail time for certain offenses, but it has some non-obvious consequences such as qualification as a prior offense triggering the ignition interlock laws. If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has brought charges against you in York or anywhere in the Central Pennsylvania area, you should contact the law firm of Coover & Associates by calling (717) 761-1274 for a free initial case evaluation. We have years of defense experience representing clients in criminal cases and can provide you with advice on admission into the ARD program along with any unforeseen consequences. You can also reach us by submitting our online message form.