Pennsylvania’s statutory sentencing scheme for DUI offenses permits the courts to impose greater penalties for each subsequent DUI conviction. Generally, it is easy to ascertain whether a conviction constitutes a first, second, or third offense. The issue can become convoluted, however, when a defendant faced with DUI charges was previously charged with a DUI crime and entered into an ARD program but was not actually convicted. Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued a ruling addressing the novel question of whether prior acceptance of ARD equates to a prior conviction for purposes of imposing sentences for second or subsequent DUI crimes, ultimately ruling that it did. If you are charged with a second or higher DUI offense, you could face substantial penalties if you are found guilty, and it is critical to talk to a Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer about your options for protecting your liberties.
Procedural History of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant was arrested and charged with DUI crimes in July 2019. He was subsequently arrested and charged with a second DUI offense the following month. In February 2020, the defendant entered the ARD program for the charges arising out of his first arrest and then entered a negotiated guilty plea for the charges arising out of his second arrest.
Reportedly, the court deferred sentencing in the second case. Before the sentence was imposed, however, the court ruled that the provisions in the DUI law that equated accepted into ARD to a prior conviction for sentencing purposes were unconstitutional. The court sentenced the defendant as a first time offender, after which the Commonwealth appealed. Continue reading