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Driver charged with DUI accepted into first-time offender program

Many Pennsylvania residents likely regard a DUI as an expensive annoyance. However, for other people-especially those in certain careers or public positions-charges for driving under the influence can be very damaging with consequences beyond license suspension or a fine. Fortunately, programs exist for first-time offenders that can minimize the severity of some of the penalties.

After an alleged near-miss collision with a police car, the superintendent of a school in western Pennsylvania was charged with drunk driving. A blood-alcohol level test performed at a nearby hospital after the arrest revealed that his blood alcohol level was more than two times above the legal limit. As a first-time offender, the 55-year-old driver was allowed to take advantage of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. The arrest resulted in paid suspension from his job but his attorney is hoping that he will soon be allowed to return.

As this story illustrates, many drivers charged with DUI are at risk of losing or being suspended from their jobs. This can be devastating for most people, who depend on their jobs to pay their bills and provide for their families. First-time offender programs recognize that people sometimes make mistakes and have faulty judgment when assessing their ability to drive after consuming alcohol. Advocating for participation in these programs can potentially mitigate the consequences of a DUI arrest and charge.

In addition to first-time offender programs, there may be other defenses available to defendants. For example, it is important that drivers are read their rights when stopped and that field sobriety tests are administered correctly. If law enforcement officers make certain mistakes when stopping or investigating drivers for drunk driving, the evidence against the driver may be inadmissible which can result in dropped charges.

Source: Daily Journal, "Western Pennsylvania school superintendent gets ARD in DUI case," May 17, 2014

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