Qualifying for the Berks County DUI Alternative to Jail
A new father celebrating the birth of his son with a few beers gets arrested for a DUI (driving under the influence). Will he have to spend the first days of his new son’s life in a county jail?
Berks County has an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program for DUI. This program is an alternative to trial, conviction, a mandatory jail sentence, and a mandatory loss of your driver’s license for one year.
If you meet all of the following requirements you may be eligible for the ARD Program on your DUI charge:
- It’s your first offense for DUI and you have no other prior misdemeanor, felony or ARD disposition
- There was no serious bodily injury to another because of an accident
- There was no passenger under 14 years of age in the vehicle you were operating
- You have had a valid driver’s license that was not suspended, revoked, or cancelled at the time of arrest for DUI
You must undergo a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation prior to admission into the ARD Program, and participate thereafter in any recommended treatment or counseling.
If you refused a Breathalyzer, blood, or urine test, the arresting police officer must send your refusal form to PENNDOT (and a copy to the District Attorney’s Office) prior to ARD Court.
To be eligible for acceptance into the ARD Program on your DUI offense you must apply for the ARD program at the time of your preliminary hearing.
The ARD program can involve probation instead of a mandatory jail sentence, a license suspension shorter than the one-year mandatory period, attendance at Alcohol Highway Safety School (DUI School), reduced fines and costs, and community service. Upon successful completion of the ARD program, you are entitled to request that your DUI charge be expunged.
DUI is a serious matter and the ARD program may not be for everyone. To help you avoid jail time and to advise and guide you through the ARD acceptance process, be sure to hire an attorney experienced in these matters.