Can I avoid the license suspension by participating in ARD?
DUI License Suspension
By pleading guilty or being convicted of a Driving Under the Influence charge in Pennsylvania, even a first time offender, most people face a 12 month license suspension. Many first time offenders are eligible to participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program. Participation in ARD avoids a conviction and thereby many of the mandatory minimum penalties associated with a conviction, like the mandatory jail time and mandatory fines. However, with the license suspension, it is not avoided but is instead substantially shortened. Instead of being a 12 month suspension, most people that accept ARD face a 30, 60, or 90 day suspension.
The length of the license suspension for a Pennsylvania DUI is primarily based upon the blood alcohol level of the driver, with the exception being that persons under 21 are supposed to receive a 90 day suspension. There are times that the courts complete paperwork incorrectly and minors receive less than a 90 day suspension, but the law actually imposes a 90 day suspension. The only way to avoid or reduce a suspension is to have the DUI charge reduced to a lesser DUI charge. For example, an experienced DUI defense attorney is aware that the blood alcohol tests have a margin of error, and a margin of error argument can be used at times to argue that a DUI defendant’s blood alcohol level could have been below a threshold level. If a person had a blood alcohol level of .162%, the person is facing a 60 day suspension under 3802(c). A margin of error argument may be asserted to convince the district attorney to dismiss the 3802(c) charge and instead have the client placed on ARD for the lesser DUI offense of 3802(b). By reducing the charge, the license suspension would be reduced from 60 to 30 days. While a reduction of a DUI charge is possible, it is not something that prosecutors routinely do.
Limited License Eligibility for DUI Suspension
While ARD does not avoid the license suspension, a person facing such a suspension is eligible to apply for a limited license called an Ignition Interlock Limited License (ILL). The license does NOT limit a person to driving to and from work. Instead, the only limitation is that the person must drive an ignition interlock equipped vehicle. The license allows a person to drive anywhere at anytime.