Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is a program offered to first offenders charged with DUI in the State of Pennsylvania. By successfully completing the program, first-time Pennsylvania DUI offenders are able to avoid lengthy court proceedings and are able to have their DUI charge expunged from their criminal record.
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. 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 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.
Alternatively, 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 your original DUI charges. 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.
If you are accepted into the ARD program and you get arrested on another DUI charge at anytime in the future, 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.