Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the few crimes that you can commit by accident and without hurting anyone else in Pennsylvania. This is why so many people face first-time offender charges for drunk driving. If you get arrested and charged in Bucks County, there will be a few unique aspects to how your case proceeds, particularly when it comes to diversion.
Penalties for First-Time DUI Offenses
The repercussions of a conviction for a first offense of DUI in Pennsylvania depend on several factors. These include your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the arrest and whether you were underage, though other factors can make a difference, as well:
|Sentence||Fines||License Suspension||Other Treatment|
|BAC Under 0.10||6 months probation||$300||None, if eligible for ARD||Alcohol safety school|
|BAC Between 0.10 and 0.16||2 days to 6 months in jail||$500 - $5,000||1 year||Alcohol safety school|
|BAC Over 0.16||3 days to 6 months in jail||$1,000 - $5,000||1 year||Alcohol safety school|
|Underaged DUI||2 days to 6 months in jail||$500 - $5,000||1 year||Alcohol safety school|
Importantly, Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance policy for minors under the age of 20, meaning they can be convicted for DUI if they have a BAC of 0.02% or above.
Diversion Program in Bucks County
Bucks County, however, has a diversion program for first-time DUI offenders.
This diversion program, called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), is a pretrial intervention program that allows people who do not have a criminal background and who have been arrested for non-violent offenses – like DUI – to avoid the rigors of the criminal justice system.
Eligibility for ARD is fairly strict: You cannot have any convictions in your past and cannot have participated in any diversion programs beforehand. When it comes to ARD for a charge of DUI, you will be ineligible if:
- You had caused an accident in which someone else got hurt, there was serious property damage, or you left the scene
- There was someone under the age of 14 in your car at the time of your arrest
- You did not have a valid driver's license or car insurance when you were arrested
- You took a specific action in your car that endangered other people when you were arrested
- You did not complete a CRN (Court Reporting Network) evaluation, or your CRN indicates that you have an addiction and you have not taken substantial steps to address it
If you are eligible to participate in Bucks County's ARD program, you will have to waive your right to a preliminary hearing and submit the application paperwork to be considered for admission into the program.
Once enrolled, you will have to complete the requirements of the program. These depend on the charge you are facing, but usually include:
- Community service that is verified by the Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole Department
- Pay the necessary court and program fees
- Complete an alcohol class
- Pay restitution to anyone who was hurt
If you complete these requirements, your charges will be dismissed and your criminal record will be expunged. If you fail to complete these requirements – even in a minor or trivial way – or get arrested, again, the original DUI charges will resume.
Bucks County DUI Attorney Joseph D. Lento
DUI-defense Joseph D. Lento helps people who have been arrested and accused of DUI in Bucks County. Contact him online or by phone at 215-535-5353 for help.