If you have been arrested for DUI in York, you can face serious penalties under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which can result in the loss of your driving privileges, incarceration, substantial fines, and other adverse consequences. The “Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition” (ARD) program might offer the best alternative if you are charged with a first offense DUI or a minor drug crime. While you should speak to an experienced York DUI ARD lawyer if you have questions about this program, this blog post provides answers to many common questions.
What is the ARD program?
The “Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition” program, which is otherwise known as ARD, is available in the city of York and all of the counties throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The program is intended to provide a diversion option for individuals with very limited or no record, who has been charged with a relatively minor crime that does not involve violence. If you are facing a relatively minor criminal charge, such as a first-time DUI, possession for personal use, or possession of paraphernalia, successful participation in ARD provides the opportunity to emerge with a clean record.
If you are allowed to participate in the ARD program, your criminal case will be suspended for a period, which usually amounts to one year. The court will articulate specific tasks that you must complete during the term of your ARD program. When the terms of your program are satisfied, the court will inform you that you qualify to have your case dismissed and removed from your criminal record. Once your alleged offense has been cleared, a public record search conducted by landlords, employers, and others will not be discovered.
How do you go about getting into the ARD program?
When you first meet with one of our experienced York DUI defense lawyers, we will assess your situation to determine whether you qualify for the ARD program. Even if you do qualify, we do not automatically recommend that you participate. If you have a strong case based on the facts and evidence, we still might advise fighting the charges to obtain a dismissal or acquittal without the obligations associated with the ARD program. One important point to keep in mind is that the specific admission criteria for participating in ARD is not expressly defined, so the matter is left to the discretion of the District Attorney’s office in each county.
If you are facing charges in York County, you will gain an advantage by working with a criminal defense attorney with experience handling ARD cases within the county. Because our law firm has successfully helped many clients navigate this program, we are familiar with York County’s specific requirements and practices. We gather personal information from you so that we can complete the ARD application specific to York County. We submit the application to the District Attorney’s office on or prior to the date of your preliminary hearing. We also submit documentation explaining: (1) who you are; (2) the circumstances of your case; and (3) why you should be admitted into the program. Our attorneys also talk to the arresting officer at your preliminary hearing to ascertain his or her position on whether your case is appropriate for ARD.
If there is agreement that your situation fits the ARD criteria, you must waive your preliminary hearing to participate in the program. If you are facing a DUI charge, you will be asked to undergo a CRN evaluation to assess whether you are dealing with substance abuse. If you are found to have a substance abuse issue, you will likely have to submit to substance abuse counseling. The formal decision on your participation in ARD will occur at the “arraignment.”
What requirements must be met to successfully complete the ARD program?
Although the specific requirements vary between cases based on the offense, the requirements in a DUI case generally include:
- Completion of an alcohol-safe driving course
- Satisfaction of all community service requirements
- Cover costs associated with ARD supervision and cost of prosecution
- Participate in substance abuse counseling
- Commit no further offenses while participating in ARD
- Prohibition on use of drugs or alcohol
- Submit to driver’s license suspension
- Pay restitution (if applicable)
- Waiver of speedy trial rights
Since the requirements imposed if you are admitted into the program vary, you should speak to an experienced York ARD attorney about your case.
If you receive a DUI or face charges of another minor offense (e.g. simple possession), our York ARD attorneys can protect your right, gather evidence to defend you against the charge, and pursue the best outcome, including your potential participation in ARD. Call Coover & Associates at (717) 761-1274 to learn how we can help.