LAW CHANGE-A SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED DUI ARD IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED A PRIOR OFFENSE. Commonwealth v. Chickin.
On May 20, 2020, the Pennsylvania Superior Court effectively changed the current landscape of DUI sentencing for many in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For many years the Pennsylvania DUI Sentencing Law has been construed to require the counting of a successfully completed and dismissed DUI-ARD, as a first offense for mandatory sentencing purposes, if an individual is convicted of a subsequent offense within 10 years.
In its opinion, the Superior Court held that the Pennsylvania law making an ARD count as a “prior offense” is unconstitutional. The Superior Court found specifically that for a prior DUI offense to be counted, the individual would have to have been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or pleaded guilty to the charge of DUI. ARD is in essence a pre-trial diversion program wherein the issue of guilt or innocence is not litigated and does not require the person to admit guilt. Therefore, a sentencing court cannot consider ARD as a prior offense for mandatory minimum sentencing penalties previously associated with a second or subsequent conviction of DUI. Simply put, a successfully completed ARD can no longer be used to increase the mandatory minimum sentences in DUI cases.
The ruling has led to immediate changes to how many Counties consider and process ARD applications and has lessened the mandatory sentence requirements in countless pending DUI cases. DUI law is ever changing and it is important that you consult with experienced counsel if you find yourself facing these difficult charges.
BE CAREFUL AND PLEASE DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE.