Lancaster County recently unveiled a new centralized Magisterial District Court, DUI Central Court, to handle all criminal cases involving DUI charges. The new centralized court will be housed out of the Lancaster County Courthouse and will deal with all DUI related charges. The Court system contends that these changes to the current system should boost efficiency and productivity, while also saving money for the tax payer.
First time DUI Offenders are the most likely type of Defendant to waive their preliminary hearing. Typically for a Preliminary Hearing, the state must present an officer, and other witnesses, to testify and present its case. This is done at the states expense. Lawmakers and the DA’s office has contended that because it was very likely they would waive the Preliminary Hearing, it was wasteful and cost ineffective to make the officers attend. Out of this Reality, the DUI Central Court in Lancaster County was born.
DUI Central Court
At DUI Central Court defendants will have the following options at the initial hearing:
(1) Waiving the hearing and entering the ARD program
(2) Pleading guilty and accepting house arrest, instead of jail time
(3) Having a preliminary hearing at a later date.
Attorneys will be present to negotiate plea agreements, but no police or witnesses are required at this initial preceding, unless a preliminary hearing is requested. Both the ARD program and accepting House Arrest, are at the complete discretion of the District Attorney.
Those who qualify for the DUI ARD program are usually first time offenders. It is a pretrial adjudication meaning it is not a guilty plea. Many Pennsylvanians have qualified and benefitted from the program which allows them to keep a guilty plea off their records, and allows for expungement of the record once the program is complete. The program requires you to receive period of probation, without jail time, complete hours of community service, and finish a highway safety class.
DUI Central Court will be held two Thursdays each month to handle nearly all of the DUI-related crimes in the county beginning October 1. Preliminary hearings will be scheduled as soon as charges are moved from the original district court to central court. Magisterial District Judges will oversee the cases on a rotating basis at the Lancaster County Courthouse.
During 2014, there were 1,641 DUI charges filed in Lancaster County, down from the 1,723 DUI charges filed the previous year. As of Monday, there have been 1,014 DUI charges filed during the first nine months of 2015.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney in Pennsylvania
Don’t become another statistic. Contact the experienced team of Criminal Defense Attorneys in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Lancaster County. Ciccarelli Law Offices has a local office at 313 West Liberty Street, Lancaster PA 17601 or contact us directly at (717) 291-9400. Its our Lancaster County DUI Team: experienced former prosecutors and defenders with one goal in mind, fighting for your rights. Reach us today at (717) 291-9400.