Will kids being in the car keep me out of ARD?

Q: When I was pulled over for my marijuana DUI the officer said I would get ARD. My kids where in the car and everything I’m reading says I will not be able to get ARD if minors where in the car. The officer also stated he would tell the judge I was very cooperative, but it seems that there isn’t much that can help me. I have a consultation scheduled with a lawyer, but I have very little money. I am the main supporter of my family and it was just Christmas, so I feel I am in a very bad position with no options it is really worrying me. (Rochester, PA)

A: Each county District Attorney sets its own criteria for ARD eligibility. It would not be unusual for crimes like Endangering Children (EWOC) or Recklessly Endangering Another Person to make you ineligible for ARD. In situations where someone in your situation who obviously has no criminal record, the DA can make an exception and drop those additional crimes to allow you to enter ARD on the DUI alone. In my county, it often takes a letter from an attorney asking for this type of exception to be made. Your options are to hire an attorney, or, talk to the officer and see if he will help you out by talking to the DA on your behalf and requesting the charge that makes you ineligible (EWOC) be withdrawn. If this is a plea, I am sure you can find an attorney to work with you on the fee if you call around. You should also talk to the Public Defender in your county to see if you qualify.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.