Minimizing the Consequences of a First DWI Conviction
In Pennsylvania, the penalties for a DWI conviction depend in significant part on the “degree of impairment” or the blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of your arrest. Generally, if your BAC is below 10%, you won’t face a jail sentence. The difference, though, between what the state considers general impairment and high impairment is relatively small, basically a matter of having one more drink. If you have been charged with high impairment—a BAC of 10% or higher—you can face up to six months in jail.
Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program
To facilitate rehabilitation when it seems clear that an offender simply made a one-time mistake, the Pennsylvania legislature has put in place the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. ARD is available to certain non-violent offenders with little or no prior criminal record. Eligibility is determined by the prosecutor’s office, based on extensive screening. Prosecutors will typically look at:
- the severity of the crime
- the circumstances surrounding the offense
- any indication of remorse
- the perceived likelihood of rehabilitation
- the offender’s willingness to participate in rehabilitative educational or counseling programs
Once in an ARD program, you will likely be required to complete substance abuse treatment, and may be required to perform community service. The court may also order restitution, if appropriate.
If you successfully complete the ARD program (which can last as long as two years), you can ask the court to dismiss the charges against you and to permanently expunge your case from the records.
Contact the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr.
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