If you are facing a first offense DUI charge in the state Pennsylvania you may be offered an alternative to the traditional criminal court case and that is the PA ARD program. ARD stands forAccelerated Rehabilitative Disposition and it is a program that is unique to Pennsylvania DUI law.
The ARD program was implemented by the state of Pennsylvania in the 1980’s as a means to accelerate the court process in criminal cases such as first offense DUI’s that would not jeopardize the general public’s safety if the defendant were allowed back on the streets.
By admitting first time PA DUI offenders into the ARD program the state of Pennsylvania is able to avoid lengthy court proceedings and the defendant is able to have their DUI expunged from their criminal record once they complete the ARD program.
Only first time DUI offenders may be eligible for the ARD program. The district attorney makes the decision as to whether or not a person will be admitted into the ARD program. Just because you are facing a first offense DUI charge does not mean that you are automatically admitted into the ARD program.
To find out if you qualify for the ARD Program? Click Here For A Free Consultation With a DUI Lawyer to discuss getting into the PA ARD Program.
You will not be eligible for the ARD program if your DUI caused serious injury to anyone other than yourself or if there was a fatality involved. You will not be admitted into the ARD program if you had a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of the DUI stop. If either scenario applies in your case, you will have to go through the criminal court system for the DUI. (More on ARD Eligibility)
Just because you are eligible for the program does not mean you should automatically accept it. If your PA DUI attorney thinks that you stand a good chance of having the charges against you dismissed, it may not make sense for you to accept participation in the ARD program as an alternative to going to trial to fight the charge.
If you are facing a first offense DUI charge and accept admittance into the ARD program versus going to trial and at anytime in the future you get arrested on another DUI charge, you will be charged as a repeat or habitual offender. The ARD program is basically a one-time “get out of jail free card”, you only get one chance at the program, so if you stand a good chance of winning your case, you need to talk with your lawyer and consider all of your options before making your decision.
If you are accepted into the ARD program, it is very similar to being on probation for your DUI. You will not have to serve any jail time for the DUI charge, but you will receive supervision for a period of two years while you are in the program. If you complete the required conditions of the ARD program, the criminal DUI charges against you will be dropped. It will be as if you were never charged with DUI and you’ll have a clear record.
If you fail to fulfill any of the requirements of the ARD program, the DA will seek to have you removed from the program and if this happens you will be facing the original DUI charges that you were up against. Noncompliance includes: not attending supervision meetings, failing to attend a court mandated DUI School, failing to pay any court ordered restitution, or otherwise violating any condition of your ARD program that is required by the court.
When you’re in violation of your ARD program, your original DUI charges will be reinstated and you will have to go to court. You’ll be prosecuted on the original charges and you will be sentenced if you are convicted of the original DUI charge.
Pennsylvania DUI laws
Contact a Pennsylvania DUI attorney
Pennsylvania ARD code (This is the long-winded versus of the ARD code)
The Pennsylvania ARD Program : Everything You Need To Know (This site offers a detailed step-by-step whitepaper on the ARD program)