Pennsylvania DUI Laws-ARD (What you need to know)
Pennsylvania ARD Program
In the State of Pennsylvania, if you are a first time DUI Offender, you may be eligible for the “ARD” Program or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. For Many DUI offenders, ARD represents the only chance short of complete dismissal of the charges or a not guilty verdict after trial, to avoid a DUI conviction on your record. Some refer to ARD as your one “get out of jail free card” but that is not entirely correct. If you are admitted into the ARD program, (the prosecutor must agree to your petition), it is very similar to being on probation for your DUI. You will not have to serve any jail time for the DUI charge, but you will receive Court-ordered supervision and you may be required to obtain a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation, drug and alcohol treatment if required, community service and probation. If you successfully complete the ARD program, at the end of the probationary period, your case will be dismissed as if you were never charged with DUI and you'll have a clear record. It should be noted that just because you are a first time DUI offender doesn't necessarily mean that you will be eligible for the ARD program.
ARD Eligibility Requirements
To be admitted into the ARD Program a first time offender must be recommended for the ARD Program by the District Attorney from the County in which you are being charged. There are a number of potential roadblocks regarding whether the DA ultimately recommends you for the program. First, whether or not there were any serious bodily injuries to others or excessive property damage arising from an accident associated with your DUI driving arrest? Secondly, were there any passengers under the age of 14 in your vehicle at the time of the driving? Third, is there anything on your criminal background record that may exclude you from participation in the program? If any of these factors are present in your case, you will likely not be allowed admittance into the program and you will have to go to court to face the charges against you.
About the Pennsylvania ARD Program
ARD is a one-time deal, so if you are ever in trouble for another DUI in the future, not only will you not have an ARD available, but you may face second offense penalties. Therefore, depending on the unique facts in your case, if you have significant legal issues, or the reading is low enough not to be facing significant suspensions and interlock requirements, you and your lawyer should seriously consider taking your case to trial instead of accepting the ARD Program. While ARD may sound like the best road, it is important that you have all of the answers before undertaking the journey.
ARD License Suspension
An important and often overlooked component of the ADR program is the attendant license suspension. The ARD statute actually requires the Court to order license suspensions based upon Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels even on an ARD. If the BAC has not been challenged or deemed inadmissible by agreement of the parties, the Court will impose mandatory suspensions as follows:
BAC .08-.99 no suspension
BAC .10-.159 30 day suspension
BAC .16-above 60 day suspension
Under Pennsylvania Law, there is also no occupational license available for any suspension under 60 days, that means any suspension under an ARD agreement must be served in its entirety.