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Police in Lancaster County pulled him over for speeding: 66 mph in a 45 mph zone. They arrested him for DUI.
Last Monday morning, though, sitting in the wood paneled commissioners meeting room on the fifth floor of the county courthouse, he appealed for a second chance at rehabilitation.
“I know I have an addictive personality,” he said remorsefully, adding that he had already pursued drug and alcohol counseling. “I care for my family.”
The ARD panelists considered these factors, but did not coddle him.
Cars are “missiles,” Assistant District Attorney Mark Fetterman reminded the man. Anything in front of a vehicle moving at 66 mph gets destroyed.
“Do you think it’s fair you’re asking for a fifth chance?” asked Northwest Regional Police Officer Frank H. Ember Jr., referring to the man’s previous drug related charges.
The man said he did not.
He admitted that he had driven drunk several times and had gotten away with it.
In the end, on the conditions that he stop drinking and submit to periodic alcohol tests, the panel granted his request.
“Quite honestly,” Stedman told the man and his attorney, “I don’t know if we’re making the right decision or not. We’re going to take a risk on you . so please do not let us down. Do not kill someone.”This story, part of a Sunday News series on driving under the influence, takes a look at ARD and the ARD review panel that Stedman launched about six months ago.
Five of the 11 ARD cases heard Monday by the panel involved DUIs. (Please see related story for a roundup of the other cases.)
One DUI case involved a waitress given 10 additional hours of community service so she could continue in the ARD program.
Names and specific details of the offenses have been omitted. Decisions in several of the cases are pending.
The panel meets once a month and comprises Ember,
who volunteers his time, Stedman and a rotating roster of attorneys from his office.
Last week’s reviewers included Assistant District Attorney Carolyn Flannery. Also providing input were Tracey Barley, who coordinates the DUI component of the ARD program, and Melissa Kurtz, coordinator of the non DUI component.
Lancaster defense attorney Steven L. Breit said the panel is the first of its kind he’s seen in 22 years of practice.
“Now you’re dealing with a human being whose name was on the application,” said Breit, who represented one of the DUI offenders Monday, as well as a woman accused of lying to police.
“I was impressed with how the program ran” Breit added. “They are the last arbiter” of a defendant’s future “and they are taking it seriously.”
Stedman said he got the idea for the panel one night while mulling over an applicant.
The printed form did not provide sufficient context, said Stedman, who recalled thinking “Boy, I don’t know what to do with this ARD. You know what? I want to meet him.”
Face time gives prosecutors a better grasp of whether a person will stay out of trouble in the future, according to Stedman, who added that the ARD program is typically for first time offenders.
The rubber stamp alternative, a couple of days in a cell, “may or may not work,
” the district attorney said. “We want a long term resolution that they’re not going to drive drunk again.”