Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or “ARD”, is a pre-trial intervention program that is designed to divert first-time, non-violent offenders from the criminal justice process. Many people who apply for admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in PA are people who have been charged with Driving Under the Influence/DUI.

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program suspends the criminal justice process while the person is on ARD probation and complies with certain conditions. If a person successfully completes the ARD program, the charges are legally dismissed.

Pennsylvania ARD Process

To be admitted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program, on a DUI or any other charge in PA, a person must be recommended by the district attorney’s office. A judge may not admit a person into the ARD program on his or her own. After the DA’s office recommends someone for admission into the ARD program, a judge decides, at a hearing, whether to accept the recommendation.

A person makes application for admission into the ARD program by submitting an application to the DA’s office prior to any application deadlines. The DA’s office then makes a decision whether to recommend a person for admission into the ARD program. For the most part, this decision cannot be appealed.

It is important to note that the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program is a pre-trial program, meaning that a person must apply for admission into the ARD program prior to trial. If a person chooses to exercise his or her right to a trial and is convicted, that person may not then be admitted into the ARD program. Accordingly, it is important to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney in the early stages of your case to ensure you understand your rights, and to carefully evaluate any potential trial issues in the early stages of the criminal justice process and before the deadline for applying for admission into the ARD program.

Decision to Seek Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program on a DUI Charge

You and your DUI defense attorney should carefully evaluate whether admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program is truly the best option. Attorneys who automatically assume a client should apply for ARD, without evaluating the strength of the Commonwealth of PA’s case, can do their clients a disservice.

There are many factors — including the strengths and weaknesses of the Commonwealth’s case — that you and your criminal defense attorney should carefully consider in making this determination. Any decision to apply for admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program should only be made after a full case evaluation and comprehensive discussion regarding the available options, risks and potential consequences of every course of action.

If the prosecution has a strong case for DUI, and the person may qualify for admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, the person may decide to seek admission into the ARD program. There are certainly many benefits to the ARD program as opposed to a DUI conviction. These benefits include:

  • No jail time. A person who is accepted into the ARD program in PA avoids mandatory minimum prison sentences which accompany most DUI convictions.
  • Greatly reduced license suspension. People who are admitted into the ARD program will have a DUI license suspension that is far less than the one-year PA license suspension that accompanies most DUI convictions. In Montgomery County, PA, people represented by a lawyer may apply for the “ARD Fast Track” program, which can result in a PA license suspension of as little as one or two months.
  • Expungement of criminal charges. People who successfully complete all the terms and conditions of the ARD program in PA are eligible to have all records of the arrest and ARD disposition expunged (destroyed) from PA government agency files and databanks.

By statute, PA county district attorneys' offices are permitted to have their own unique criteria and conditions for admission into an ARD program. It is important to understand that DUI cases that may qualify for ARD in one county might not for another.

Drunk Driving Accidents

For individuals charged with DUI following a drunk driving accident with injuries or property damage, he or she may not be entitled to admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. In such cases, it is critically important to retain an experienced Montgomery County DUI defense lawyer.

Expungement of DUI/ARD Dispositions

People who successfully complete the ARD program in PA may petition the court to have their criminal record expunged. Criminal records should be expunged, if possible, so that employee background checks do not uncover records of the arrest and ARD disposition. A court order providing that all records connected with the charge be expunged and destroyed is required. This order should direct all recipients to produce an affidavit assuring that all documents relating to the arrest — including records of the DUI arrest, police report, fingerprint records, DUI charges, and admission to the ARD program — have been destroyed.

Some people retain lawyers for expungement services who obtain a court order of expungement but do not aggressively follow up with every PA or federal agency possessing records of the arrest. This defeats the purpose of seeking an expungement. A person petitioning for expungement is seeking a clean criminal record so that a background check does not uncover an arrest. Obviously, a signed court order mandating that PA or federal agencies destroy criminal records is worthless if the agencies do not actually comply with the order. If your expungement attorney has not followed through to make sure people comply with the court order, the background check may uncover the old DUI arrest.

This is why it is important to retain an attorney who will put forth the time and effort to make absolutely certain your record is legally and physically expunged. You can count on me to provide the meticulous representation your future demands.

Call 610-270-8800 to Speak to an Experienced Montgomery County, Pennsylvania ARD/Expungement Lawyer

If you wish to have your criminal record expunged in Montgomery County, PA, or want to learn if you are eligible for ARD, I can help. Contact Pennsylvania DUI/ARD Expungement attorney Henry S. Hilles, III, in Norristown, Montgomery County, PA.