What is ARD and is it the Right Option for me?

Some people think that they can get out of a DUI by opting for an ARD. But it’s not that easy. While ARD may be an option, is it the best option? This is a decision that you should make only after having an experienced attorney review the details of your case.

ARD is not the road to Easy Street and many times can be a Dead End

What is ARD?

The Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (“ARD”) is a pre-trial diversionary program offered to first time offenders under certain conditions. As conditions of the ARD program, you will be under probation supervision for 6-12 months. You will attend mandatory Highway Safety classes. You may lose your license for some time. The ARD program cost to you is approximately $1,500 to $2,000.

What are the downsides to taking the ARD option?

The one thing to keep in mind is that after completion of the ARD program, you will still have a DUI on your record. This may open you up to a number of consequences such as:

  • Higher auto insurance rates– Depending on your driving record, you may be denied coverage or have to pay extremely high premiums just to get coverage.
  • You won’t be able to drive for UberUber and Lyft (as well as most delivery services like Postmates) will disqualify you if you have a DUI on your record in the past 7 years.
  • The DUI will show up on your PennDOT history for 10 years. This means anyone doing a background check will be able to see your DUI.
  • CDL License Disqualification– If you are a CDL driver, your CDL will be disqualified for a year. This is why ARD is not a viable option for commercial drivers.
  • Sanctions against Licensed Professionals– Because the DUI will show up on your criminal and driving history, your governing body can find out about it. Many of them also have rules in place that require you to report DUI violations. Depending on your history, you may face sanctions against your professional license.
  • Penalties for Military Personnel– The military has its own rules about criminal violations and you may face sanctions from them.

Who is not eligible for ARD?

The person will not be eligible for ARD if he or she:

  1. has a prior criminal conviction
  2. was involved in a crash that resulted in serious injury or death
  3. was carrying a minor under the age of 14 at the time of arrest
  4. does not have insurance

Will I avoid a license suspension if I take ARD?

Under the ARD program, the mandatory license suspension depends on the Blood Alcohol Concentration.

  • No suspension for BAC less than .10
  • 30 day for BAC between .10 and .16
  • 60 day for BAC over .16 or drugs

Can the ARD be expunged?

At the completion of the ARD probation, you can petition the court to dismiss and expunge the charges. If granted, then your arrest information should be destroyed and charges dismissed. But what ARD lawyers will not tell you is that even though the criminal record can be expunged, the PennDOT records cannot be expunged for at least 10 years. Also what few tell you is if you get another DUI, you will be treated as a repeat offender.

In conclusion, many lawyers will automatically recommend ARD, not because it is best for you but because it is easy for them. Once it is done, they do not have to deal with the long term impact. At The McShane Firm, we will evaluate your case to help you make a fully informed decision as to what is best. We don’t believe in cookie cutter, one size fits all solutions. We are here to help you make the best decision. Sometimes, that means fighting the charges and sometimes it means taking ARD. The difference is we will explain the consequences of the various options so you can choose what’s right for you. Please call 1-866-MCSHANE for more details.

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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