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Police officer convicted of drunk driving could lose his job

When a law enforcement officer is charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, the officer may be able to hold on to his or her job but the outcome in that respect is far from certain. This will be an issue with the police chief in Camp Hill, who was arrested for drunk driving in Perry County on Nov. 6 by the state police. Troopers allege that the chief crashed his vehicle into a tree and that he had a blood alcohol reading of .178, which is more than twice the legal limit.

The most problematic aspect of the event is the allegation that the chief called a tow truck instead of the police, which resulted in a charge of failing to report an accident. If true, that indicates a certain moral culpability that may work against any defense or strategy that the accused presents. In order to hold onto his job, contesting the charges would not be the way to go unless there was little or no evidence to support the arrest and prosecution.

That does not appear to be the case, and the accused must hope to qualify for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), which is a Pennsylvania program that allows the offender to purge a criminal record after successfully serving a period of probation. The accused in this case must retain a certification from the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission in order to keep his job. However, a conviction of DUI disqualifies the offender from certification. 

If the officer qualifies for ARD, the DUI is no longer a disqualifying offense, according to a spokesperson for the Commission. There are certain rules in Pennsylvania that determine whether a person may be accepted into an ARD disposition. The district attorney of each county usually makes the final decision on whether to accept an applicant into the program. If the accused has a prior drunk driving conviction in the past 10 years, he will be disqualified from the ARD program.

Source: pennlive.com, "What will happen to Camp Hill's police chief? DUI doesn't always mean job loss for law enforcement", David Wenner, Dec. 15, 2017

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