Pennsylvania mandates some of the nation’s toughest DUI penalties. But what if there was a way to have your charges dismissed and avoid being convicted? Wouldn’t you be interested? If you’ve been charged with DUI, there’s good news: if you meet certain eligibility requirements, you could qualify to participate in a special Pennsylvania program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD. In this blog post, our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyers will explain how the ARD program works, the eligibility criteria to participate, and the rules and requirements once you’re enrolled.
ARD, which stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, is a special Pennsylvania program which allows certain offenders to avoid facing criminal consequences in exchange for complying with the program’s rules and requirements. If you are able to successfully complete the Pennslyvania ARD program:
As you can see, there are incredible advantages to participating in ARD. You will not have to go to jail or prison, and will also have the opportunity to seal your public criminal record through a legal process known as expungement. From a practical standpoint, it will be as if the DUI incident or other underlying offense never occurred.
Needless to say, this will greatly facilitate any future housing and employment searches, as well as give you a greater opportunity to take out loans. Having a criminal record attached to your name can make these basic tasks next to impossible, even with the protections which are supposed to be afforded by anti-discrimination legislation.
While the ARD program presents an amazing opportunity for individuals who have been charged with drunk driving in Pennsylvania, not everyone will be permitted to participate. In order to enroll, both you and the underlying offense itself will need to meet certain eligibility requirements. For example:
ARD is most commonly associated with Driving Under the Influence, but can also extend to other offenses. Provided you satisfy the appropriate eligibility criteria, you can also participate in Pennsylvania ARD with a conviction of retail theft, simple assault, or other minor offenses.
Even if you are unable to participate in ARD, you may qualify for alternative diversionary programs, such as Philadelphia’s AMP (Accelerated Misdemeanor Program).
Once you’re enrolled in the program, you will need to consistently comply with certain rules and requirements. If you fail to comply with the program’s terms, you could lose special privileges or even be ejected from the program altogether. Keep in mind that if you are removed from the ARD program, your case will be returned for trial and you will face the original penalties, including heavy fines, incarceration, and the creation of a criminal record.
To provide just a few examples, Pennsylvania ARD participants generally must obey the following rules and requirements:
Once again, the above list is not exhaustive and does not include all possible terms of participation. Specific program rules, ARD applications, and other legal procedures vary slightly from one county to the next.
Placement in the program ultimately lies at the discretion of the District Attorney. However, even if you are initially rejected, it may still be possible to enroll if you are approved after filing a request for reconsideration. Our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys can advocate aggressively for your placement into the program, and will provide dependable legal guidance with regard to your rights and responsibilities as a DUI defendant.
If you or a loved one has been charged with intoxicated driving in Pennsylvania, experienced ARD lawyer Lloyd Long can help you explore your legal options and fight the allegations. To set up a completely free and confidential case evaluation, call our law offices right away at (215) 302-0171.