The Law Office of Marc J. Semke
A Criminal Defense And Youth Advocacy Firm In York, Pennsylvania

Diversion programs can dispel underage DUI charges

Being convicted of a DUI as a minor could drastically affect your child’s future. If he or she is arrested for drunk driving, you may have an alternative to fighting the case in court. The accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program allows first-time offenders, both adults and minors, to avoid a mark on their records if they successfully complete the program.

Who qualifies?

The District Attorney decides whether or not your child should be admitted to the program. If your child has any past behavior on their criminal record, they probably will not qualify. They are also unlikely to get into the program if another party was injured or killed because of an accident caused while driving under the influence.

If your child is admitted, note that he or she is still required to plead guilty to any summary offenses, which are smaller offenses associated with the crime, such as disorderly conduct.

How to apply

To apply, ask for an ARD application at your child’s preliminary hearing. You need to request a review from the District Attorney after the hearing but before the arraignment date. You still need to attend the arraignment unless it was waived. An attorney can file a waiver for the arraignment, as well as help you properly apply and work for the best outcome for your child.

Missing parts of the program could result in failure and a return to the case in court. It is important to stick to deadlines and learn about everything the program entails.

Benefits of ARD

ARD was created so first-time offenders who are unlikely to commit a crime again could avoid a long litigation process. This program can offer a lot of benefits to your child that could help their future.

In the short term, it can allow your child to avoid penalties. Your child could avoid jail time altogether and prevent their driver’s license from being suspended. While you will have to pay for the program and the application, it is still usually cheaper than the fines and court fees you would face, plus the benefits are often worth the cost.

On top of that, completing the ARD can expunge the DUI charge from your child’s record. This means your child would not have to admit to a criminal record during job or scholarship interviews, which keeps future opportunities open for them.

At its core principle, ARD is rehabilitative. While everyone makes mistakes and poor decisions throughout their life, the program can reduce your child’s chance of future DUI arrests or criminal activity. It may not be the right choice in every case but you should consider asking an attorney about ARD if your child has been charged with a DUI.

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