Some first-time offenders of Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence, commonly referred to as BUI, may be eligible to participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. The ARD program is probably best described as being a probation without verdict program, which means that the person does not plead guilty and is not convicted of any criminal charge but still accepts a punishment from the court.
The primary benefit of the ARD program is that successful completion of the program allows for the dismissal and expungement of the charges.
Am I Eligible For ARD? It Depends.
ARD is generally considered a first-time offender program, but some people who have relatively minor offenses or possibly more severe offenses in the distant past may be considered for admission into the ARD program. A person charged with BUI is NOT eligible to participate in ARD if the person was convicted or accepted ARD for a BUI charge within the seven years of the date of the current offense. Even some first-time offenders of BUI are not eligible to participate in ARD if an accident occurred and someone other than the defendant was killed or seriously injured.
Even if a person had no prior offenses of BUI and was not involved in an accident, those factors only make the person eligible to participate in ARD. Not all first-time offenders are approved to participate in the ARD program. The district attorney in the county in which the criminal incident occurred can still consider other factors in determining whether or not a person is approved to participate in ARD. The district attorney will often consider factors such as the person's criminal history, level of cooperation with the officer during the investigation, the officer's opinion with regard to ARD, and the person's alcohol concentration level.
ARD Conditions and Requirements for Operating Watercraft Under the Influence
Pennsylvania state law requires that an ARD program for Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence charge has the following conditions or requirements:
- Mandatory suspension of watercraft operating privileges for between six to 12 months
- Pay restitution to any person who incurred a financial loss as a result of the defendant's actions
- Complete an approved boating safety course
- Court supervision by the county probation department for at least six months, but if the defendant needs counseling or treatment, then supervision must be for at least 12 months.
The Court Can Revoke Participation In ARD
A person participating in ARD for a BUI charge may be revoked from participating in the program if the defendant is charged with a criminal offense, fails to pay restitution, fails to complete the boating safety course, or fails to complete any program or counseling, or violates any other terms or conditions of the ARD program.
If a person is revoked from the ARD program, then the district attorney will resume prosecution of the charges. If a person is convicted, the person will face severe mandatory minimum sentences for Operating a Watercraft Under the Influence.
Fight BUI Charges and Protect Your Boating Privileges With JD Law
If you have been arrested or charged with BUI, it is best to contact JD Law immediately to speak with an attorney. Call our office at 814-954-1094 or email us for a free initial consultation.