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Court Examines Its Jurisdiction Over ARD Orders

People charged with DUI offenses in Pennsylvania may be able to avoid a conviction and sentence by entering into an ARD program. While ARD is a pretrial disposition, people admitted to ARD nonetheless have to abide by certain conditions, and if they do not, they may be removed from the program. As discussed in a recent Pennsylvania ruling, however, if a court denies the Commonwealth’s motion to remove an ARD participant, the Commonwealth most likely cannot appeal the ruling. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is wise to speak to a Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer to determine what steps you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that in October 2020, the defendant was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol after colliding with an electric pole and leaving the scene to call emergency services. In June 2021, she was accepted into an ARD program. In March 2022, the Commonwealth filed a motion to terminate her admission into the program, alleging that she had tested positive for alcohol consumption in December 2021, violating the terms of her ARD supervision.

Reportedly, the trial court found her in violation of the program but denied the Commonwealth’s request to terminate her participation and instead added an additional 90 days to her term of ARD supervision. The Commonwealth filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the court was required to terminate her participation in the ARD program, but the trial court denied the motion. The Commonwealth then appealed.

The Pennsylvania Courts’ Jurisdiction Over ARD Orders

On appeal, the Commonwealth raised the issue of whether the trial court erred in denying its motion to terminate the defendant from the ARD program after it found that she violated her conditions. The court stated, however, it must first answer the question of whether it had jurisdiction over the appeal.

Generally, in Pennsylvania, a party can only appeal from a final judgment of sentence, and an appeal from any prior order is considered interlocutory. An order is considered final if it disposes of all claims and parties. The purpose of this rule is to prevent delay and avoid disrupting criminal cases by piecemeal appellate review.

The court previously determined that orders regarding ARD are non-appealable interlocutory orders because the resolution of the criminal prosecution is held in abeyance, and acceptance of ARD is an interlocutory matter. In this case, the trial court admitted the defendant into an ARD program, and the court’s order extending her time in the program was not an appealable order. Therefore, the appeal was not properly before the court.

Talk to a Skilled Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney

Many people charged with DUI offenses in Pennsylvania can avoid the risks and consequences of a trial by entering an ARD program. If you are accused of committing a DUI crime, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney about your options. Zachary B. Cooper is a skilled Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer with the knowledge and experience needed to help you seek a favorable outcome, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Cooper through the form online or at (215) 542-0800 to set up a conference.