In Montgomery County, the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program offers non-violent, first-time offenders a second chance after a conviction. Although this program is best-suited to Pennsylvania DUI cases, the program is also open to those who face minor drug possession charges and some theft charges, such as shoplifting.
Unlike most criminal sentences, which punish the offender, the ARD program focuses on rehabilitation and diversion.
Successful completion of the Montgomery County ARD program will significantly lessen the long-term impact of your first-time DUI conviction. Having one of our Montgomery County DUI lawyers assist you in the application and acceptance process may greatly increase your chance of acceptance into ARD.
For more information about whether you qualify for the program or for help with your application, contact the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. at 610-680-7842. We will help you take steps to recover from your DUI so you can move on with your life.
What are the benefits of participating in the ARD program?
Compared to a standard Montgomery County DUI conviction, the ARD program offers several significant benefits, including:
- No jail time,as opposed to a potential sentence of up to one year;
- Reduced driver’s license suspension; and
- Potential for record expungementinstead of a permanent criminal record.
How does the program work?
Instead of entering a plea and going to trial for your DUI charges, you can apply for the ARD program. Upon acceptance, the DA will set forth a list of obligations required for program completion.
Although the specific terms of ARD participation may vary, you may have to:
- Attend Montgomery Country Alcohol Highway Safe Driving School;
- Perform the required number of community service hours;
- Report periodically to the Montgomery County Probation Department;
- Complete a drug or alcohol evaluation program;
- Participate in a drug or alcohol education or other treatment program; and
- Pass all required alcohol or drug testing.
Once you complete the program successfully, you will have served your sentence and the court will dismiss your charges. From that time on, you can legally answer “no” if asked if your history includes conviction of a crime.
You can also apply to have your record expunged, which will remove any indication of your arrest. Contact our lawyers for more information on the expungement process after a DUI.
How do I get into the ARD program?
Every Pennsylvania county administers its own ARD program, and each one has slightly different requirements
The Montgomery County ARD program requires that you submit an eight-page application form to the District Attorney (DA). Your attorney must submit your application within 30 days of your scheduled preliminary hearing date. Then, at the preliminary hearing, your lawyer must speak to the arresting officer and the prosecutor to convince them that ARD is the appropriate choice in your case.
If the DA accepts your application, the court will not require you to enter a plea in response to the charges against you. Our lawyers can help with your application and represent you at the hearing. We can increase the chances that the DA will accept your application so you can enter the ARDprogram.
Will the DA approve my application for ARD?
ARD approval is not guaranteed for any applicant. Some specific conditions render you ineligible for the ARD program, including:
- Prior criminal or DUI convictions;
- Previous participation in an ARD program;
- Evidence of a DUI accident in which someone suffered an injury;
- Pending charges for assault, violence, or weapons crimes;
- Prior accusations of domestic violence, sex crimes, stalking, or witness intimidation;
- The presence of a minor child—under 14 years old—as a passenger during your DUI arrest.
All parties involved in your case, including the arresting officer and any potential victims of your crime, have the right to comment on your participation in the program as well.
Our ARD lawyers can review your history and other relevant circumstances and help you identify any potential challenges that could affect your approval. We can also advocate for you to the DA to help increase your chances of acceptance.
How much does the program cost?
Your cost for participating in the ARD program will vary depending on the circumstances of your case. The costs may include court costs, fees, restitution, supervision fees, and any other costs that the DA may assess.
Once you receive approval for program, you must remit a portion of the total cost to the Montgomery County ARD Clerk of Court. The program administrator will establish a payment plan for the balance you owe and send it to you in the mail.
You must make your scheduled payments on time. If you fail to make your payments, the DA can remove you from the ARD program and send you back to sentencing on the original charges.
If you need help understanding your costs, contact our attorneys today. We can help make sense of the charges you face after a DUI.
What happens if I do not finish the ARD program?
If you fail to comply with the terms of the ARD program or if you faced arrest before completing it, the DA will remove you.
At that point, your case goes back to the court system just as it would have had you not applied for ARD. Our attorneys can help you determine the appropriate course of action, should this occur.
What if I do not receive approval for ARD?
Unfortunately, the DA does not approve every applicant for the Montgomery County ARD program.
If you have any of the disqualifying factors listed above, approval is unlikely. The DA can decline your application for any number of other reasons—or for no reason at all.
In many cases, the DA does have the ability to make an exception. This is where one of our Montgomery County ARD lawyers can help. We can appeal directly to the DA to explain why you deserve acceptance into the program. Although this comes with no guarantee of success, it will improve your odds of having the DA reconsider and approve your application.
If the DA denies your application, we will work with you to decide how best to proceed with your case.
How do I find a lawyer to help me?
The McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., can help you understand your rights under the law and how the ARD process may benefit you. Contact our office today at 610-680-7842 for a free consultation and case review.