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The office of Attorney Debra L. Yost, Attorney at Law will be happy to answer any questions you may have or you could take a moment to see if your question is answered below.
A preliminary hearing is the first hearing in the criminal justice system held at the District Magistrate level. The District Magistrate does not determine guilt or innocence. At the preliminary hearing, the Commonwealth, through the district attorney or the arresting officer, must establish a prima facie case. A prima facie case is whether the arresting officer can establish that a crime was committed and whether the accused defendant committed the crime. In most cases, the District Magistrate will find that a prima facie case was established and hold the case over for court.
ARD stands for accelerated rehabilitation disposition. It is usually offered to first time offenders. ARD is a period of supervision where defendants are required to fulfill certain conditions. Some of these conditions may be paying costs, fines, and restitution and/or participating in classes or community service. Generally, once the required conditions are met, the charges are dropped and the record is expunged.
The various sentences depend on how high the blood alcohol content was at the time of the offense and how many prior DUI convictions there were in the past 10 years. The consequences vary depending on whether this is a first offense of subsequent offense and what the level of alcohol or controlled substance that was in the system at the time of the offense. For example, if this is a first offense and there is no prior criminal record the probable outcome would be ARD. Individuals who qualify for the ARD program will not face any jail time, but will pay fines and costs and a loss of license for up to 90 days. At the other end of the spectrum, if this is a third or higher offense within 10 years and the blood alcohol content is .16 or higher or reveals controlled substances, the consequences involve a minimum sentence of 1 year in jail, much higher fines and costs, and a loss of license for 18 months.
If convicted of driving on a suspended license that is not related to a DUI, the consequences are usually just fines and costs. However, if the license suspension is related to a DUI the consequences are a mandatory 60 to 90 days incarceration and a $1,000.00 fine. Fines, costs, and length of incarceration are affected by the number of times a person is convicted of driving under suspension.