A first-time DUI arrest may be a surprise, especially if you never drink and drive. However, mistakes happen, and you need to act quickly to avoid severe consequences. Fortunately, the state of Pennsylvania recognizes that first-time offenders can easily correct their behavior.
The state offers the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program to settle cases with limited or no driver’s license suspension. However, the program involves strict eligibility requirements and a lengthy application process.
What is ARD?
The ARD program is a pre-trial alternative for specific first-time offenders, facing disposition for a non-violent offense.
The program is designed to recognize offenders who are amenable to treatment and rehabilitation. It’s typically a great alternative to a lengthy process for first-time DUI offenders and reduces time-consuming cases for the justice system.
What are disqualifiers for ARD?
According to the York County District Attorney’s Office, applicants have to meet the required conditions and schedule a placement hearing before the court. If an individual successfully completes the program, criminal charges may result in a dismissal or expungement.
However, there are DUI-specific disqualifiers for the program that are important to note:
- Applicants who have been found guilty of or accepted ARD of a charge brought within ten years of the date of the current charge may be rejected. It depends on the previous conviction and the section the charge falls under.
- An accident occurred in connection to the events surrounding the current charge, especially if someone was injured or killed as a result of the accident.
- For a DUI offense, there was a passenger under 14 years old in the vehicle during the incident.
There are also factors such as applying late and failure to list all prior charges on the application that will disqualify applicants from ARD.
How do I apply for ARD?
Those interested in the ARD program must fill out the application within 30 days after the arraignment date. Any late applications will be automatically rejected from the program.
Applications are filed with the district attorney’s office after a preliminary hearing. The form is an orange document that is either hand-delivered or mailed to the county district attorney’s office.
It is essential to fill out the application entirely and accurately. If the document does not reflect your record, the ARD application will be denied. It is up to the applicant to ensure accuracy throughout the entire application process.
Counsel is not required for application submittal, but applicants may confer with a legal expert about the application process or if the ARD program works for them.