The sentencing issue hinges on whether you have a prior "conviction" for DWI. In the case of a PA ARD, when I have had the issue before, I have always been able to successfully argue that entry into and satisfactory completion of the ARD, as a diversionary program, does not result in a "conviction." Your attorney, if you have an attorney, needs to gather the relevamt parts of your PA file and advocate the issue on your behalf, but in NJ this should be clearly be regarded as a 1st DWI offense.
Since the PA ARD is not technically a conviction, an argument can be made that a subsequent charge in NJ is now a first offense and not a second offense.
While we strive to ensure that the information is accurate, without knowledge of all of the facts of a particular matter, this Firm's opinion, suggestions and answers are not guaranteed. Further, the Law Firm's answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship will only be created through a fully executed retainer agreement.
The legal issue whether you have a prior "conviction" for DWI. A PA ARD, is in effect a diversionary program, and does not result in a "conviction" if successfully completed -- that is what a competant lawyer will argue. Therefore the NJ matter is a 1st offense.....
I need more information re a review of your prior PA file and argue for you in this matter -- this would be the best approach. I have done this before Hire an attorney....
Do NOT rely on this answer as the information provided here is not legal advice nor is it a substitute for legal advice which requires a consultation with a lawyer. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Under NJ law, in order for your prior to be counted, you must have a prior conviction in this State or another. Since ARD is a diversionary program, it should only be counted IF you had to plead guilty prior to being admitted into ARD. Most likely you did not. Thus you should be treated as a first offender here in NJ. At this stage though you should look in to hiring a lawyer who wants to fight this NJ case for you, not plead you. Any lawyer can "handle" a DWI, but is that what you want? Or do you want a lawyer who will fight it?