The state of Pennsylvania focuses on keeping intoxicated drivers off the road and issues harsh penalties, even for first-time offenders.
The accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, or ARD, is a viable alternative for some drivers charged with DUI.
About DUI penalties
A first-time DUI charge is a misdemeanor that comes with penalties that include a fine of $300 minimum and six months’ probation up to as much as 72 hours behind bars. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, penalties could also include suspension of your driving privileges for a period of time.
ARD program participation
If you enter the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, you can avoid having a criminal conviction on your record. The Office of the District Attorney conducts the ARD case in the country where your alleged DUI offense took place. ARD is similar to probation because the court will monitor your progress and ensure that you continue to meet the program requirements. Since each case is unique, your attorney will work out the details of your participation in ARD with the district attorney.
What to expect
Requirements for your participation as ordered by the court may include:
– Alcohol counseling
– Alcohol Safe Driving Class, the completion of which will trigger the return of your suspended driver’s license
– Community service
– Abstinence from alcohol, which will include ongoing testing to ensure you are abstaining
When you successfully complete the ARD program, you are looking at the dismissal of your DUI charge as well as record expungement. This also means that you can legally answer “no” when anyone asks if you have been convicted of a crime. In all respects, completing this program will allow you to get back to normal and provide you with a fresh start to your future.