How DUI Diversion Programs Can Help You
Being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the most serious traffic offenses one can commit. A DUI can result in possible jail time, a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, soaring insurance costs, major fines, and community service. However, many first time DUI offenders have the option to undergo what is known as a DUI diversion program. A DUI diversion program may be able to help you by providing you with alcohol education courses or treatment and, ideally, the dismissal of your DUI charge.
In this post, we will take a look at what DUI diversion programs do and give a general overview of Pennsylvania’s DUI diversion program.
What Are DUI Diversion Programs?
DUI diversion programs are available to first-time DUI offenders in many jurisdictions, and allow the offender to complete a series of classes, undergo alcohol treatment, submit to a random urine test, and complete community service. In exchange for participation in the program, the DUI charges against the offender are dropped, meaning that the offender can avoid criminal charges. The rationale behind these types of programs is that “everyone makes mistakes,” and less serious offenders should be able to work to have the DUI expunged from their record.
In most jurisdictions, diversion programs require the court to impose a suspended sentence on the defendant, which requires the defendant to:
- (a) Plead guilty to the charge (although the sentence is suspended for the amount of time necessary to allow the defendant to complete the program), and
- (b) Complete all requirements of the jurisdiction’s DUI diversion program (this varies by state)
If the offender complies with the requirements of the program, the DUI charges are dropped and they do not go on the offender’s record. If the offender fails to meet the standards to drop the DUI charges, the court can impose the original sentence on the offender.
Pennsylvania’s DUI Diversion Program
Pennsylvania’s DUI diversion program is known as the “” (ARD) and is a pre-trial intervention program for non-violent offenders who have limited or no prior record. Although the ARD program is available to defendants who have committed a wide range of infractions, 90% of its participants have been arrested for DUI. Defendants in the program are fast-tracked into their county’s alcohol education classes and into any necessary treatment programs. They may also be required to perform varying amounts of community service and their license will be suspended for a period of time. After successfully completing the program, the offender may petition the court to have their DUI charges dismissed and the case expunged from their record. If the offender does not comply with the conditions of the program, they will be removed from the program and the case will be placed back on the trial list and it will proceed as normal.