The ARD program is usually thought of as a "first offender" program for DUI cases. Participating in ARD makes DUI sanctions "less bad". Who qualifies and what is it? What do I need to know about it?
Below is some general information about it, but it can be a surprisingly complex issue to deal with, especially if there is something a little unusual about your case. Part of the problem is that you may not know right now what to be concerned about. You can always call Gothie Law Firm at (717) 848-8455 to set up your free, in-office initial consultation.
Notably, York County has changed its ARD policies and procedures a number of times since this article was originally written, and I've updated it. Still, checking in with us is always advisable to ensure that you have the most current information.
WHAT IS ARD?
- ARD stands for "accelerated rehabilitative disposition." That is not a very helpful description, so let's keep going.
- It is more helpful to think of it as a program involving a bunch of requirements (a "punch list").
- If you do the requirements, you suffer fewer consequences from a DUI charge:
- a much shorter license suspension
- your criminal record is cleared ("expunged")
- you avoid jail
- It costs you less than just pleading guilty
WHO IS ARD DESIGNED FOR?
- ARD is designed mostly for a first offense DUI where nothing "awful" happened:
- Nobody was hurt badly or killed
- No children under 14 are in the car
- You have not had a prior DUI offense in the last 10 years
- You qualify for the ARD program under the York County, PA DA's local guidelines.
- If you agree that you were caught by the police and that you have no defense, ARD is a better option for you than just "pleading guilty."
ARD IN YORK COUNTY IS VERY DIFFERENT THAN IN OTHER COUNTIES SO YOU CAN'T RELY ON WHAT YOUR FRIEND FROM LANCASTER OR HARRISBURG TELLS YOU ABOUT IT
- Eligibility for ARD in each county in Pennsylvania is determined by that county's District Attorney
- In York County, Pennsylvania, the ARD program is very different than how it works in other counties.
- York has very specific rules and procedures that you have to follow.
- York County also does not hold your hand and guide you through ARD as other counties do.
- You are left on your own to sign up for various evaluations and classes and to complete all the conditions.
WILL I GET INTO THE ARD PROGRAM?
- If you follow the application procedures properly, maybe.
- If you have prior arrests (not necessarily convictions) you might not get into ARD. You should discuss this with me during your initial consultation.
- If you gave the police officer a hard time, it could affect your ability to get into ARD. The police officer may offer input on whether you get to participate in ARD or not. It is not controlling, but it is important input that the DA considers.
- There are things that you can do to maximize your chance of getting into ARD if your case or your prior record has "dings". You should ask about this when meeting with me during your initial consultation.
- York County, to its credit, is more flexible than many counties in PA about letting people enter into the ARD program, so even if you do have some "dings" you may still have a shot. You'll need to check in with my office and make an appointment so I can have enough specific details about your situation to make an accurate assessment.
HOW WILL ARD HELP ME?
This is not an easy question to answer without reviewing your case personally. As an example, however, if you 21 or older and you are charged with an alcohol DUI with a BAC over .16 or a drug DUI, instead of getting a 12 month driver's license suspension, it will be reduced to 60 days.
Other benefits include:
- You can avoid a permanent criminal record through an expungement of your criminal record (but not your driving record) that takes place after you complete all the ARD program conditions.
- Your overall court costs are lower than just pleading guilty.
- You will not serve jail time.
WHAT IS ON THE ARD "PUNCH LIST"?
- You need to get a C.R.N. evaluation done to be eligible to apply.
- In most cases, you need to get a second Drug/alcohol evaluation done.
- If you need treatment, you need to complete it.
- You need to complete Alcohol Highway Safety School.
- Pay your court costs in full (as of 2020, usually this is about $2,400.00) or sign a wage attachment.
- Pay restitution, if there is any required.
- Attend a Victim Impact Panel.
- Complete 35 hours of community service (in most cases).
- Your conditions may vary slightly. Again, unless you meet with us, we cannot tell *you* what to expect in *your* case.
HOW CAN GOTHIE LAW FIRM HELP ME WITH ARD?
- We can help you get through ARD faster than you can do it on your own.
- If you try to do ARD on your own, it will take you well over a year from the date you get your charges till the day you are done with ARD. In most cases, it takes about 18 months.
- We can help you get through it in under a year in most cases if you follow my instructions.
- If you have "dings" that might prevent you from getting into ARD (an accident, prior arrests, prior guilty pleas, a prior DUI over 10 years ago, etc.), we can help increase your chances to get into ARD despite the problem you have. You are not likely to be able to do the same thing on your own.
- If you are initially denied ARD, we can navigate the reconsideration process to try to get you approved for the program.
- If you live outside of the area, we can help you have fewer court appearances and trips to York County for court. This can be very important for folks from outside Pennsylvania or even out of the immediate area (Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, for instance).
- We can help you get your ARD requirements done with less monkeying around, including helping you get evaluations, treatment, and DUI classes done faster.
- If you live outside of the area, you will not be able to do your conditions in York County, and we can help you figure out how to complete ARD by doing programs local to you and then get credit for them. As of late 2020, some of the conditions can be completed remotely by Zoom, for instance, but it is unclear if this will extend beyond the pandemic.
WHAT DO YOU CHARGE FOR ARD CASES?
- Our rate for ARD cases is competitive in York County, and it is probably much less than you think. Compared to many Harrisburg firms with bigger ad budgets, the cost savings you will get from hiring us are considerable.
- You will pay far more in court costs than you will pay our office. Court costs are generally under $2,400.00, by comparison.
- We charge less for non-complex ARD cases.
- We give discounts for honorably discharged veterans and active duty servicemen and women, including reservists.
- We offer discounts for students -- we all did foolish things as a kid, and feel as though we owe the world a karmic debt under the theory of "There, but for the grace of God go I."
- In some circumstances where you can demonstrate steady employment, we are willing to take payments over time for ARD cases.
The bottom line is that ARD is more complicated than most people think. If you do not mind being on bail or on probation for a year and a half instead of less than a year, you can certainly do your own ARD. You can also risk making a mistake with a deadline or an ARD program rule and missing out on ARD completely.
Every year, Attorney Gothie is hired by several people for "ARD repair" cases that were completely avoidable had they been represented by a lawyer from the beginning. Those end up costing more in the long run. We also meet with a number of people who likely can get through ARD on their own. Really, it is up to you and a matter of how much risk you feel comfortable with.
A consultation is free. You have nothing to lose by setting one up and meeting with Attorney Gothie to discuss your case and how ARD might work for you. We look forward to hearing from you.
Call Gothie Law Firm at (717) 848-8455 to set up your free, in-office initial consultation.