|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 for Accelerated 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 DUIs that would not jeopardize the safety of the general public 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. In Philadelphia County, a more specialized program for DUI offenders called DDIP has been implemented with different standards specific to DUI cases that include classes on alcohol managemente and the dangers of alcohol as well as a safety driving school compliance.
Who is eligible for the ARD Program?
Only first time offenders may be eligible for the ARD program. The district attorney makes the final decision as to whether or not a person will be admitted into the ARD program. A defendant cannot petition the Court to be admitted into the program. Simply because you are facing a first offense DUI charge does not mean that you will automatically be admitted into the ARD program. You may need a lawyer fighting to make the case on why your admission should be accepted.
Should I participate in the ARD program?
Just because you are eligible for the program does not mean you should automatically accept it. For example, if your 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 can be considered 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 to a good lawyer with experience to determine and and consider all of your options before making your final decision.
What will I have to do as part of the ARD program for my DUI?
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, up to 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 will have a clear record once it is expunged.
What happens if I don’t comply with my ARD program?
If you fail to fulfill any of the requirements of the ARD program, the District Attorney 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 are in violation of your ARD program, your original DUI charges will be reinstated and you will have to go to court. You will then be prosecuted on the original charges and you will be sentenced if you are convicted of the original DUI charge.
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The statements above constitute general advice and do not form an attorney-client privilege. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment to officially retain counsel. (c) 2011.
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