Driving under the influence is consistently one of Pennsylvania’s most common crimes, for which tens of thousands of drivers are arrested every year. In order to combat drunk driving, the Pennsylvania legislature has enacted a series of mandatory minimum sentences based on the amount of alcohol found to be in drivers’ blood within two hours of a DUI arrest. As a result, a conviction for a first offense DUI can include a mandatory minimum sentence of as much as seventy-two hours in jail, and a maximum sentence of six months incarceration-and as much as a year of license suspension.
Pennsylvania has created two programs that allow drivers to avoid jail time, including otherwise mandatory minimum sentences: The Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD) and the Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP). Gawthrop Greenwood has extensive experience handling matters that resolve in both ARD and IPP admissions, and often charges a flat rate for entry into either program.
ARD is a pre-adjudication program that allows drivers to avoid jail time in favor of community service and, in some cases, rehabilitative classes. Admission to the ARD program also allows drivers to regain their license in not more than two months-and may potentially avoid a license suspension altogether. It is usually only available to first-time offenders. Each county administers its ARD program differently, but successful completion of the program requires the applicant to (1) appear for a preliminary hearing at a local magisterial district court office, (2) complete and submit an application to be admitted to the program, and (3) appear for an admission hearing in the Court of Common Pleas. If the applicant successfully completes the program and all the required community service and classes, the arrest and subsequent court information are eligible for immediate expungement.
IPP is a post-adjudication program, tailored for second-time DUI offenders. Each county administers its IPP program differently, but in all counties, applicants are required to (1) appear for a preliminary hearing at a local magisterial district court office and (2) appear in the Court of Common Pleas for a guilty plea or trial. After a conviction is entered, the driver may apply to the IPP program in order to enjoy a substantially reduced sentence. The IPP program is different from ARD because it usually includes a short jail sentence or a period of electronic home monitoring, because it does not include a reduction in the period of license suspension, and because the record of the driver’s conviction and entry into the IPP program are not eligible for expungement.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call 610-696-8225 or click here.