While driving home from a fraternity party, law enforcement pulls you over on suspicion of DUI.
As a college student and first offender, you worry about the impact this will have on everything from your student loan to your admission to graduate school. Is there an alternative to conviction?
The state of Pennsylvania has harsh penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. A first DUI charge is a misdemeanor that comes with license suspension, significant fines, the possibility of drug and alcohol assessment and the potential for up to 72 hours behind bars.
The ARD program
The Office of the District Attorney in the county where your arrest takes place oversees the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD Program. ARD is an option that is available to first offenders with no criminal background who face a non-violent charge. The program usually lasts for one year and has several components, including:
– Completion of drug and alcohol counseling
– Attendance at the Alcohol Safe Driving Class
– Community service
– Payment of prosecution and supervision costs
Mandatory testing will also ensure that you are abstaining from alcohol and drug use.
A look ahead
The purpose of the ARD program is to help you avoid a criminal conviction and make a fresh start. If a prospective employer or anyone else should ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you are within your rights to answer “no.” When you complete the program successfully, the court will dismiss the DUI charge and you can face your future with a clean record.