In Pennsylvania, the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are steep, even for a first offender, and a conviction can sideline your plans for the future.
The ARD program is an option the court may approve as long as you meet the requirements. What is this program and what are the benefits of participation?
Penalties for first offenders
In addition to the fines you must pay, the minimum penalties for a first-time DUI charge include probation, possible jail time, suspension of your driver’s license and attendance at the Alcohol Highway Safety School. Your blood alcohol content level will determine the severity of the charges against you.
ARD stands for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program. The court often allows drivers who face DUI charges to enter into the program if they have no criminal record. ARD is a rehabilitative program for those charged with a non-violent offense. If the court approves your participation, one major benefit of successful completion is that you will not face a criminal conviction. Although ARD is not probation, there is a similarity in that the court will monitor your progress to ensure that you are complying with program requirements.
Tailored to your situation
Your defense attorney can work with the office of the district attorney to help tailor the program to ensure you get the most out of your participation. You must continue to meet the requirements, such as abstaining from drugs or alcohol and completing community service as well as the Alcohol Safe Driving Class. The ARD program usually lasts for a year or less. Once you complete it, you can answer “no” when asked if you have ever had a criminal conviction. This, plus your clean record, are major ARD program benefits.