It’s your first DUI. Maybe you have heard of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. Maybe you think you’re safe from criminal penalties because you’re going to get ARD; however, you might be wrong.

In this post, we look at the ARD program, who can get in, and how a lawyer can help.

What Is the ARD Program?

Pennsylvania offers the ARD program as an alternative to jail time for many first-time offenders. If you are eligible, your lawyer can help you apply. If the court grants your request for ARD, you may have to complete the following requirements as part of the program:

  • Six months to a year of probation
  • Community service
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • A Court Reporting Network evaluation
  • Paying administrative and court costs
  • Any other requirements the judge decides to impose on you

The cost to complete the ARD program is estimated to be around $2,500. That may be a lot of money; however, the average DUI in PA costs around $10,000 in total.

The low cost and chance to avoid jail can make ARD sound like a great option. But who is eligible?

Eligibility for ARD

You will only be eligible for this program under certain circumstances. And even then, the district attorney may still impose other requirements for ARD that keep you out of the program. Having a lawyer on your side can make all the difference.

You may not be eligible if:

  • You have participated in ARD or a similar program within the past 10 years
  • You have more than one past DUI conviction on your record
  • You harmed someone while driving under the influence
  • You had a minor younger than 14 in the car with you
  • You were driving faster than 100 miles per hour
  • You have a poor driving record
  • You have past felony convictions

As you can see, this is a complex list of requirements. And it isn’t even complete. The D.A. can add requirements at their will.

How to Get ARD in PA

Should you meet the requirements, you can apply for ARD through the following process:

  • At your preliminary hearing, apply for the DUI-ARD program
  • Waive your preliminary hearing
  • Waive a formal arraignment
  • Waive the filing of the criminal information

From there, you will get an ARD hearing date from the D.A.

Reasons to Work with a DUI Lawyer

Getting ARD for a DUI is a complex process. Your lawyer can help you with each step.

Better ARD Outcomes

As part of ARD, you may face a driver’s license suspension of up to 90 days. The length of time depends on your blood alcohol content at the time of your arrest. While Pennsylvania law requires the suspension, your lawyer can help you advocate for a certain start date for your license suspension.

For example, if it would be better for you to have your license suspension done before you head back to college in the fall, your lawyer may be able to make that case for you.

Help with the Criminal Justice System

In most cases, ARD in Chester County is for first-time DUI offenders. Additionally, you can’t have a felony on your record. That means that, if you qualify, you don’t have a ton of experience with the PA criminal justice system. We can advise you at every step, so you are never surprised.

And we can give you peace of mind that you are making the best possible choices regarding your case.

Possible ARD Alternatives

Believe it or not, ARD isn’t always the best option. That’s because you can’t beat getting your charge dismissed. With a dismissed charge, there is no probation, no community service, and no license suspension. You’re free to go.

Sometimes, criminal charges are weak. When they’re weak enough, contesting them can get them thrown out. Hiring a lawyer for your DUI can help you understand your options and determine the best course of action.

Seeking ARD for a DUI? Call Skinner Law Firm

Ready to speak with a DUI lawyer about ARD and your DUI charge? If you’ve been charged in West Chester, Phoenixville, Exton, Wayne, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, contact Skinner Law Firm. Claim your free consultation today. Call (610) 436-1410 or contact us online.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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