Individuals who have been charged with certain non-violent criminal offenses may qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. You may qualify for ARD in Pennsylvania if you are charged with drunk driving for the first time.
The ARD program is a pre-trial diversion program that can help you avoid harsh penalties like driver’s license revocation, jail time, or a permanent criminal record. A criminal defense lawyer can help you determine if you qualify.
Qualifying Criteria for ARD in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania lawmakers recognize that people accused of a crime deserve a second chance. The ARD program is a program that focuses on education and rehabilitation instead of punishment. If you qualify for the ARD program, you have the opportunity to get your charges dropped, and your arrest record expunged.
To qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, you must meet the following criteria:
- The offense you were charged with was non-violent, meaning it did not involve physical harm to another person
- You have not been convicted of another criminal offense in the past ten years
- You have never done the ADR program before
- You do not have pending charges or accusations of assault, domestic violence, or weapons crimes
You might qualify for the ARD program if you were charged with any of the following:
- Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Retail theft and shoplifting
- Passing bad checks
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Receiving stolen property
- Other low-level misdemeanor offenses
DUI Offenses that Qualify for ARD
The majority of people who participate in ARD are individuals accused of drunk driving. However, not all DUI offenses qualify for the ARD program. The exact criteria for ARD can vary from county to county. However, the general criteria are listed below.
If you were arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you may be able to enter the ARD program if:
- This is your first DUI
- There were no children under 14 years old in your vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest
- You were not accused of being in a crash resulting in serious injury or death while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- You had a valid driver’s license and auto insurance at the time of the DUI arrest
- You were not previously placed in the ADR program
Qualifying for ARD Is Only the First Step
Being accused of a qualifying offense such as drunk driving is only the first step toward participating in the ARD program. You do not automatically get into the program if you meet the criteria.
To be admitted into ARD, you may still need to attend a hearing and make a case for why you should be admitted into the program.
Benefits of the ARD Program in Pennsylvania
Completing the ARD program can significantly reduce the negative consequences you face for a DUI or other qualifying criminal offense. ARD can help you move on from the past and avoid having a criminal conviction following you for the rest of your life.
You Can Get Your Charges Dismissed
If you successfully complete ARD, you can ask the court to dismiss your criminal charges. Once your charges are dismissed, you will not have to worry about attending a trial, fighting for your innocence, or facing criminal penalties such as jail time.
You Can Get Your Record Expunged
Having a criminal charge or arrest on your record can negatively affect your future in many different ways. If you complete the ARD program, you can ask the court to expunge your record. Records that have been expunged are not visible to employers, landlords, or friends and family.
Reduced Driver’s License Suspension Period
In Pennsylvania, certain DUI offenses result in a driver’s license suspension.
Typically, having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10% or more results in a one-year driver’s license suspension.
If you have a suspended driver’s license, you are prohibited from driving your vehicle or any other motor vehicle. However, if you finish the ARD program, the driver’s license suspension period you face is significantly reduced.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition can help reduce or eliminate the driver’s license suspension you face as a DUI offender.
The suspension periods are based on your BAC at the time of the DUI arrest:
- If your BAC was less than .10%, there is no driver’s license suspension
- If your BAC was.10% to .16%, successful completion of the ARD program results in a 30-day driver’s license suspension
- If your BAC was .16% or above and your complete the ADR program, your driver’s license is suspended for 60 days
Minors who complete the ARD program have a 90-day driver’s license suspension period.
How a Pennsylvania ARD Lawyer Can Help You
The ARD program can be confusing to navigate on your own. Many people are unsure of whether they qualify for ARD or what they need to do to participate in the program. An ARD lawyer in Pennsylvania can help you understand your options and what to do next.
The District Attorney has the final say regarding whether you can enter the ARD program or not. You will have to submit a substantial application, attend a hearing, and explain why you should be allowed into the program.
Our law firm can help you present a strong case for admission into the ARD program. We can guide you through the process of applying and represent you during the ARD hearing. You will not have to deal with this stressful and confusing situation alone.
Contact an ARD Program Attorney From McKenzie Law Firm, P.C.
If you were charged with driving under the influence or another misdemeanor criminal offense in Pennsylvania, you might be able to get your charges dismissed by participating in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.
Pennsylvania ARD Lawyer David C. McKenzie III can help you request entry into the ARD program and fulfill the requirement so you can get your charges dismissed and your record expunged. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you.