Reduced Sentencing for 2nd DUI Offense in Pennsylvania

Second-Time DUI Offenders May be Eligible for Reduced Sentence

Will the New Pennsylvania Ruling Reduce Your DUI Penalties?

If you were recently charged with a DUI offense in Pennsylvania and considered a “second-time offender” because you already completed the ARD program for a previous offense, you may be eligible to have your current sentence/punishment reduced. 

You may be eligible for lower penalties under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) if:

  • You are currently serving your sentence as a second-time DUI offender;
  • You have not previously litigated or waived the issue of whether you committed the first-time offense; and
  • You file for relief within one year from the date of the judgment.

Defendant’s Acceptance of ARD Program Alone Cannot Heighten Defendant’s Sentencing

2nd DUI penalties pennsylvania

Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania determined in Commonwealth v. Chichkin and Commonwealth v. Roche that the sole fact that a defendant completed an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in the past, cannot be used as a “prior offense” for sentencing purposes because doing so violates constitutional due process.

In other words—your second DUI offense could be treated like a first DUI offense.

As you may know, a first DUI conviction has drastically different penalties than a second DUI conviction in Pennsylvania.

Read more about this new DUI ruling in Pennsylvania.

By being admitted to the ARD program, a defendant avoids trial and is not required to admit guilt.  Therefore, it cannot be considered as a “prior offense” for DUI sentencing unless the Commonwealth proves to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the fact that the defendant has committed a prior DUI offense or the defendant admits to having committed the prior DUI offense.

The difference between a first-time and a second-time DUI offense is significant because the law imposes mandatory minimums for repeat offenders.  In addition, a third-time DUI conviction may result in felony charges.

Ketchel Law Successfully Reduced Sentence for DUI Offender who Previously Completed ARD Program

The PCRA allows individuals who are serving a sentence to challenge their conviction on the grounds that their conviction is unconstitutional.

Because the ruling in Chichkin held that it was unconstitutional to use an ARD as a “prior offense” to sentence a person as a second-time offender, Ketchel Law recently used this ruling to successfully argue a PCRA petition that resulted in the resentencing of a second-time DUI offense as a first-time offense for the client.

The client was eligible for relief because he was still serving his sentence, had not previously litigated or waived the issue, and timely filed the PCRA petition (within one year of the date of judgment).

Ketchel Law argued that because the court treated the fact that the client had previously completed an ARD program as a “prior” DUI offense, his sentence on the new DUI case as a second-time offense was illegal.  The court agreed and re-sentenced the client as a first-time DUI offender.

This changed the defendant’s sentence from a misdemeanor of the first degree (M1) to an ungraded misdemeanor and reduced the amount of allowable supervision from 5 years to 6 months.

If you have recently been sentenced on a second DUI offense and your first DUI was an ARD program, call Ketchel Law right away to inquire if you are eligible to file a PCRA petition and possibly have your sentence changed.

If you were charged with DUI in PennsylvaniaJustin Ketchel can help build a strong defense for your case and keep fines and sentencing to a minimum.

The first step is to get a free legal consultation from an experienced and successful DUI Lawyer in Pennsylvania.



For more information and to better understand Pennsylvania DUI Laws, visit the following pages:


DUI and Refusing a Breathalyzer in Pennsylvania

What happens if you refuse a chemical breath or blood test after receiving a DUI charge in Pennsylvania?

DUI—Refusal of Breathalyzer in PennsylvaniaWhen you get your PA drivers license, and drive on PA roadways, you implicitly consent to submit to a blood or breath test when a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence. This is often referred to as the Implied Consent Law or known as the O’Connell Warnings in Pennsylvania.

Many people may be unaware of having complied to this law when signing their driver’s license. If they are then charged with DUI—Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs—they could be confused at the time of arrest or even belligerent from the alcohol or drugs and decide not to submit a blood test or breath sample. In so doing, they break the law of implied consent and automatically lose their license.

If you did not submit a breathalyzer or blood sample, you still have options for getting your license reinstated, however, including a DUI appeal.

Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer or Blood Sample

So what happens if you are charged with DUI in Pennsylvania and refuse to give your blood or breath during a police stop?

Under Pennsylvania Code § 1547, the implied consent law states that anyone who is driving in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is deemed to have consented to a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content or the presence of a controlled substance if a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is driving under the influence.

If you refuse to submit to a test, it can result in a license suspension up to eighteen (18) months as well as a hefty fine.

Additionally, even if you refuse, you can still be prosecuted for a DUI. So, a refusal can result in a civil penalty AND criminal charges.

As stated above, a police officer must be able to show that they had reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving under the influence, and the police officer is required to advise that if you refuse a chemical test that you will face a license suspension.

Appealing a Suspended License—30 days

You have the right to appeal any license suspension as a result of your alleged refusal to submit a breath or blood sample during a DUI charge. If you believe that an officer acted improperly or that you did not refuse, you should contact an experienced Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer immediately.

Once you have received a letter from PennDot stating that your license will be suspended for a chemical test refusal you have only thirty days to file an appeal.

Generally, once the appeal is filed, a supersedes order is filed, allowing you to continue to drive while awaiting your license suspension appeal hearing.

The DUI Appeal Attorneys at Ketchel Law have years of experience successfully winning license suspension appeals and, specifically, chemical test refusal suspension appeals.


If you are dealing with this issue or any other legal issue that may cause PennDOT to suspend your license, contact our office to discuss your appeal rights immediately.

If you have been charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, Ketchel Law can help build a strong defense for your case and keep fines and sentencing to a minimum.

Learn what happens in Pennsylvania after you have been charged with DUI:


Our experience and knowledge, along with our strong persuasive skills, allows us to provide you with the best possible defense.


If you have been charged with DUI, call us immediately so we can begin working with you on defending your reputation and your future.