Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) in Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a unique diversionary program available to certain offenders called Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD. Diversion means that a criminal case is resolved without a trial. Much of the criminal court proceedings up to and including a trial will be “diverted” in favor of an alternative agreement between the prosecution and defendant.
This means no guilty plea will be entered, and upon successful completion, your charges will be dropped and then qualify to be expunged from all government records. If you are facing a 1 year driver’s license suspension, ARD will reduce this to either 30 or 60 days, depending on your alleged BAC. Your attorney may be able to reduce this time even further, depending on the county and circumstances.
ARD programs in Pennsylvania vary by county, and each alternative agreement will be arranged on a specific per-case basis. Before any alternative agreements are reached, however, the prosecution must permit an ARD, and the defendant must also qualify to enter into one.
Qualifying for a DUI ARD in PA
The threshold qualifications are the same in all counties to apply for a DUI ARD program. They are:
- No previous ARDs for DUI during the last 10 years, unless for an ungraded misdemeanor.
- No prior convictions for DUI during last 10 years, unless for an ungraded misdemeanor.
- No passengers in defendant’s vehicle were under the age of 14.
- Valid driver’s license at time of DUI arrest.
- No physical injuries to others were involved.
Qualifying is just the first step toward an ARD. The requirements for the successful completion the program are normally stringent and quite involved. For example, the participant will need to be supervised by a probation officer for a period of 6 months. However, in Allegheny County, probation for ARD is non-reporting. Alcohol safety school and additional alcohol assessments and treatment programs will also need to be completed.
If any requirement is not met, the participant will quickly become the defendant once again, as the district attorney will move to vacate the ARD and pick up prosecution for the crime where it left off. For this reason, most defense attorneys will only recommend ARD for DUI when it is likely the best or only option for the accused.
An ARD may be the best option for college and college-bound students. You will need to review with your lawyer all the types of funding you use, or plan to use, to pay for your college tuition. Depending on the type, an ARD may be the only option to ensure you will not lose eligibility for certain grants, scholarships, and loans.
4 Essential Points to Keep in Mind
1) You must apply through the court for ARD by the time of your preliminary hearing. DUI hearings receive priority scheduling on the docket, so time to apply is limited. 2) Remember that you and your criminal defense attorney need to carefully evaluate all of your options, including any DUI defenses or lesser charges, before deciding on ARD. 3) You will only avoid a conviction after you prove you have fully met all the terms of the ARD. 4) ARD for a DUI charge can only be used once in 10 years, so use it wisely.
For more information about the ARD programs for DUI offenders in Pittsburgh, Ebensburg or Cambria County, call us today: Pittsburgh & Ebensburg: (412) 690-0225. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will review all of your options with you, and your initial consultation is free.