You got a DUI and now what? Will you have to go to jail? The thought itself is terrifying not to mention how your life will be changed forever even upon your release.
Getting a DUI in Pennsylvania does not always mean jail time and a conviction. One alternative to a DUI conviction is the Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or the ARD, program.
What is the ARD program?
ARD is a program you will enter into as a type of pre-trial intervention. If you successfully complete the ARD program, the charges against you will be dismissed and you will not need to serve a mandatory jail sentence. Your arrest record might even be eligible for expungement.
ARD is only available to first-time non-violent offenders. Many people arrested for DUI might qualify for the ARD program if it is their first offense within 10 years, no one was killed or seriously injured due to their alleged intoxication and there was not a child in the vehicle at the time of their arrest.
You must apply for the ARD program for a DUI. If you are accepted, you must:
- Complete 10 or more hours of community service. Once you complete your community service you must send the county a completion letter.
- Be on probation for six months to a year
- Attend an Alcohol Highway Safety program
- Pay any necessary restitution, fees and other costs
You may also have your licenses suspended for a period, even if you are participating in the ARD program.
After completion of the ARD program
Upon successful completion of the ARD program, your DUI charges will be dismissed, and your arrest record might be eligible for expungement. Expunged records cannot be viewed by the public, but police may still access them. Note that not every criminal record is allowed to be expunged.
Successful completion of the ARD program can spare you from a criminal conviction, mandatory jail time and a potential criminal record. Many facing a DUI arrest find it well worth it to apply for the ARD program and complete all program requirements.