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Pennsylvanias Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD): An Alternative to DUI Conviction

Pennsylvania has a program for first time DUI offenders that can be an excellent alternative to a DUI conviction. It is called ARD, or Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition. If you are looking at your first ever DUI arrest, have a clean record, and caused no personal injury as a result of your DUI, ARD can eventually keep your record clean and quickly put this mistake behind you.

How It Works

ARD is a pretrial diversion program which diverts certain first-time DUI offenders out of the criminal justice system into an alternative system. Pennsylvania determined that many first-time DUI offenders are merely normal citizens who made a mistake and can be quickly rehabilitated without the expense of going through the criminal system. To be considered for Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition, you must request the prosecuting attorney to put you in the program. This is discretionary, and the decision is completely up to the prosecutor.

You must also meet certain criteria.

  • You can have no prior DUI convictions or have been placed on ARD within the past 10 years.
  • Your current accident must not have caused serious bodily injury to anyone else.
  • There must have been no children under the age of 14 in the vehicle with you.

If you meet these criteria, and the prosecuting attorney agrees, you are in the ARD program. The maximum period for ARD supervision is two years. The terms of the ARD supervision will include requirements such as paying all court costs promptly, completing substance abuse treatment, community service, and maintaining employment. Each county prosecutor is allowed to set the ARD requirements, so what you will be required to do will vary from county to county. If you successfully complete ARD, at the conclusion, your record will be expunged, which means there will be no continuing record of your DUI offense.

Potential Drawbacks

ARD isn't for everyone, even if you qualify. If the prosecution has a weak case, you could be better off taking the case to trial and being found not guilty. Furthermore, if you are found guilty of DUI in the future, you could be labeled as a "habitual offender" and subject to enhanced penalties. If you are charged with DUI for the first time in Pennsylvania, you should consult closely with a DUI attorney in Pennsylvania about whether ARD is right for you.