Pennsylvania’s First Offense DUI Program (ARD)
What is the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program?
DUI is one of the most common charges people are arrested for in Pennsylvania. To put the issue into perspective, the lowest number of DUI arrests for a single month was 3,564 — that’s nearly 120 DUI arrests every single day, minimum. The Pennsylvania Department of Justice reports that in total, there were over 53,000 DUI arrests in Pennsylvania in 2013 alone.
Fortunately for some motorists facing a Pennsylvania DUI, there may be a way out of your charges. If you qualify to participate in Pennsylvania’s unique ARD Program:
- You do not have to plead guilty.
- You will not be convicted.
- The charges against you will be dismissed.
Needless to say, ARD is an amazing opportunity for those who qualify. But how do you qualify, and what else do you need to know about the program? Our DUI defense lawyers have compiled this handy FAQ guide for you to use as your one-stop ARD resource.
How Do I Qualify for ARD in Pennsylvania?
ARD is not available to all DUI offenders. In order to qualify, applicants must meet the following conditions:
- The applicant must have a clean record for the past 10 years. An exception would be a first offense ungraded misdemeanor.
- The DUI charges under review must not involve death or serious injury to another motorist.
Additionally, if the DUI in question involved a passenger under 14 years of age, the applicant will be disqualified from consideration.
If the applicant has already been approved for ARD in the past, the chances of being accepted for ARD a second time are diminished.
Can My License Be Suspended If I Participate in the ARD Program?
The answer to this question depends on your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) at the time of the incident. The higher the BAC, the more longer the license suspension will be.
- BAC under 0.10%: no suspension
- BAC between 0.10% and 0.16%: 30 days
- BAC exceeding 0.16%: 60 days
There are several other factors not related to BAC which can also influence the terms of a license suspension. For example:
- Driver under 21 years old: 90 days
- DUI with drugs: 60 days
How Do I Apply to the ARD Program in Pennsylvania?
Usually, people make their ARD application after their preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing does not determine innocence or guilt. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is for the District Judge to determine whether there is enough evidence against the charged individual, and you will be able to see the evidence against you at this stage.
During the preliminary hearing, you will be ordered to attend what’s called CRN (Court Reporting Network) evaluation. The CRN evaluation is a self-reporting alcohol evaluation, meaning you’ll have to answer questions and submit paperwork detailing your alcohol consumption. Depending on your CRN evaluation in conjunction with your BAC, you may be ordered to attend 16 to 32 hours of Alcohol Highway Safety Classes. You may also be ordered to receive counseling, and may be required to perform community service and pay a fine of roughly $1,400.
Ultimately, acceptance into the ARD Program comes down to the District Attorney. The DA has sole discretion in making this decision, which highlights how important it is for your case to be handled by an experienced attorney.
ARD Program Requirements
Under ARD, you will have to avoid any additional arrests during your probationary period. This probationary period is usually six months to one year, though in cases involving marijuana DUI it may be as brief as 30 days. If you complete your probation without any arrests or incidents, the DA will drop the charges against you.
Am I Eligible for Expungement?
Although the DA will drop the charges against you once you successfully complete probation, you will still have a criminal record. In other words, you will continue to have a “rap sheet” on file, including your fingerprints, your “mug shot,” and records of your arrest. If you want to eliminate your rap sheet, you will need an expungement.
Fortunately, the DA does not generally oppose granting expungements for successful ARD cases. To apply for an expungement, you must file a Motion for Expungement in the Court of Common Pleas. If a judge approves your expungement, your rap sheet and the records of your arrest will be destroyed.
What to Do If Your Request for ARD Was Denied
If your request for ARD was denied, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are out of options: you can make a request for the DA to reconsider the original decision. At this point, your attorney will send the DA a letter detailing the reasons why you would be a suitable applicant, and may arrange for your arresting officer to speak with the DA as well. Police officers are generally happy to assist in cases where the individual being arrested was respectful and cooperative.
The ARD Program is a unique opportunity for law-abiding individuals who made a one-time mistake to start with a clean slate. If you would like to speak with a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer about applying for the program, call Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online to schedule a case evaluation.