You made a mistake and you don’t want to go to jail. this is your first DUI offense and you are hoping to avoid incarceration. The good news is that you have the option to keep your freedom via the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in Pennsylvania.
The ARD program is a chance for first-time offenders without any convictions on their record to avoid serving time in jail and come out of the program with a clean slate. If you or someone you love need assistance applying for the ARD program, a lawyer from McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. can help.
What Is the ARD Program?
The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program is a diversionary program focusing on treatment and rehabilitation instead of jail time. The program offers first-time DUI offenders a second chance option to remain part of free society under the supervision of the court.
You must apply to enter the program with the District Attorney’s Office in the country where you face a DUI charge. If the District Attorney’s Office approves your application, you must adhere to all of the terms and conditions of the program.
Our law firm will present this as one of your options if you are a first-time offender and we will walk you through how the program works.
How Does the ARD Program Work?
When you enter the ARD program, you must comply with the terms and conditions of the program, which can include:
- Attending Alcohol Highway Safety School
- Checking in with a probation officer for 6-12 months
- Complete a full drug and alcohol assessment
- Pay restitution as well as court and other fees
- Perform a set number of hours of community service
- Submit to and pass drug and alcohol tests
- Comply with any other conditions set by the court
You may also face suspension of your driver’s license, but a lawyer from our firm can help you keep your license as suspension only occurs in certain cases. If you do lose your license, it’s usually for no more than two months.
How Can You Apply to Enter the ARD Program?
Applying to enter the ARD program in Pennsylvania is a relatively easy task by completing a few steps. You may not even know the program exists as an option for you, so we urge you to contact a defense attorney as soon as possible after a DUI arrest.
A lawyer can protect your rights and inform you of your options, including application to the ARD program. To apply for the program, you must:
- Waive your preliminary hearing: A preliminary hearing determines if your case will go to trial or if the judge will dismiss your case. The prosecuting attorney will present evidence in an attempt to demonstrate probable cause that you committed a crime. The burden of proof is on the prosecutor and a lawyer from our firm will work to dispute the evidence.
- Submit an ARD application: You must enter your name, address, and contact information on the application and sign it to indicate that you understand the terms of conditions of the program. You must then submit the application to the Magisterial District Court before the date of your preliminary hearing.
- Complete the ARD information form: You will enter details including your contact information, education, employment, and military service (if applicable), and submit it along with the application.
Our firm understands what it takes to apply for the ARD program in Pennsylvania. We can help you complete the necessary paperwork, check to make sure it is free of mistakes, and submit it on time on your behalf.
Do You Meet the ARD Program Qualifications?
To qualify for the ARD program, you must:
- Be a first-time offender with no convictions on your record for the last ten years
- Another person did not die or suffer injuries as a result of your behavior
- There was not a person under the age of 14 in the car with you
Any of the above could result in the rejection of your ARD application. However, you can file a reconsideration request.
What Is the Cost of the ARD Program?
One of the downsides to the ARD program is that it can be expensive. According to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, it can run up to $2,500.
The cost can vary from county to county, and it will likely cost more if you hire private counsel versus having a public defender.
How Long Does the ARD Program Last?
The typical length of the program is 6 to 12 months, but it can last up to 24 months.
Some counties will shorten the time you spend in the program if you complete all of the requirements.
What Are the Benefits of Entering the ARD Program?
The ARD program is an option for first-time offenders, but what are the benefits to you? The benefits of the ARD program in Pennsylvania include:
- Avoiding jail time
- A shortened driver’s license suspension
- Lower fines
- Dismissal of the DUI charges
- An expungement of your record
This is an opportunity to focus on treatment and rehabilitation instead of punishment. You can remain out of jail under the supervision of the court and complete the requirements of the program. This will allow you to say, truthfully, that you do not have any convictions on your record.
Learn More About Getting ARD for a DUI in Pennsylvania Today
You have a second chance waiting for you in the ARD program. It’s an opportunity to remain free while getting treatment and paying restitution for your DUI offense.
A defense attorney from McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. can explain the ARD program and how it works. We can help you apply, and guide you through the process of completing the requirements.
If the district attorney rejects your application and your case goes to court, we will put up a stout defense in court, which can include challenging the evidence and how it was obtained. To schedule a free consultation, or to learn more about getting into ARD for a DUI in Pennsylvania, please contact us today.