Having a criminal record can affect your ability to acquire employment, find housing, and affect your life in many other ways. Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) programs offer first-time offenders charged with low-level nonviolent crimes like DUI an opportunity to avoid a permanent stain on their record. Because ARD programs vary from county to county, it is important to consult local criminal lawyers to learn more about your options if you have been charged with a crime.
Advantages of ARD
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is defined as a pre-adjudicated disposition of the charges you may be facing, which means that there is no conviction if the conditions of the ARD program are met. For crimes like DUI, participating in an ARD program can also reduce the amount of time your license is suspended. In addition, after you complete ARD and your arrest record is expunged, you can answer “no” on any job application that asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime. A defense attorney in West Chester can help you file for expungement of your record within 30 days of completion of the ARD program. However, it is important to keep in mind that although expungement removes the offense and ARD from your record, if you are arrested again for a DUI or another crime, it can be taken into consideration in any subsequent cases.
ARD Requirements for DUI
ARD is most commonly used in cases involving first-time DUI offenses. Requirements and conditions vary by jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of your case. Most ARD programs for DUI require:
Probation – Most counties require a period of probational supervision for 6-12 months. Depending on where you are completing an ARD program, you may have to check in with your probation officer via phone or in person. In addition, you may be required to undergo periodic drug and alcohol testing.
Alcohol Highway Safety School – This state-mandated class involves 12 ½ hours of drug and alcohol education and testing. Depending on the county, you may be able to complete a portion of it online.
PA Driver’s License suspension – Suspension of driving privileges is almost always required in DUI cases. Length of suspension may range from 30 – 90 days, depending on blood alcohol level and the specific DUI charge.
Drug and alcohol treatment – Most counties require DUI offenders to be evaluated for drug and alcohol addiction or abuse. If treatment is recommended, completion of drug and alcohol counseling will be a requirement of completing your ARD program.
ARD fees and costs – Because ARD allows you to avoid conviction there are no fines imposed, but you must pay the costs and fees of an ARD program. This can include the cost of alcohol education classes, supervision, counselling, and other fees for things such as fingerprint processing and blood tests. The average costs and fees involved in completing an ARD program are about $2,500to $3,000.
Community service – Some counties also include community service as a condition of an ARD program. Community service requirements can range from one day to 50-100 hours.
ARD for Other Offenses
An ARD program may be available for crimes such as shoplifting, drug possession, vandalism, traffic violations, and other minor non-violent offenses. To ensure your rights are protected and you understand all your options, it is critical to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you are facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania, our attorneys at Carosella & Associates can help.