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What You Should Know about the Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Program (ARD)

Pennsylvania offers a unique Accelerated Rehabilitative Program (ARD) for first-time DUI offenders. The goal of the program is to avoid drawn-out court proceedings — and prevent future offenses — by giving first-time offenders the opportunity to expunge their criminal records through meeting certain court-ordered conditions. These include drug and alcohol counseling, restitution, and community service. Once an offender completes the ARD program and requests expungement, his or her slate is theoretically wiped clean.

Sounds like a great solution all the way around, right? ARD certainly does have some clear advantages. But taking this approach to your DUI case has some unfortunate disadvantages, too. Let’s say you were permitted into the ARD program by the District Attorney in the county were you were charged. You went through this program successfully and your records were expunged. But now a few years pass (less than ten) and you find yourself facing DUI charges once again. The court will count the prior ARD disposition — and you now face a second DUI with increased penalties.

But if you had taken a different route and successfully fought the charges after your first DUI arrest, the situation would be quite different. A skilled attorney might have succeeded in reducing or even dismissing those charges based on flawed Breathalyzer® testing or other questionable evidence. And that means you would still have your get-out-of-jail-free card available when dealing with another DUI arrest.

So keep all that in mind when you consider taking part in the ARD program. Remember to work closely with your attorney, weigh all the options, and be careful about making a decision that can cause a future bump in the road.

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