In Pennsylvania, first-time driving under the influence (DUI) offenders are sometimes offered a second chance under the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD program. Specifically, this is a diversionary or first offender program that allows people the opportunity to avoid passing through the criminal justice system for their first DUI offense. After all, the goal should be to rehabilitate individuals who made a mistake, instead of unnecessarily punishing them.
Can I Participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Program?
Admission into ARD is at the discretion of the local district attorney’s office. But some factors will automatically exclude you from consideration:
- You’ve been convicted of driving under the influence within the last 10 years (unless your BAC was less than .10 on your prior offense)
- The DUI that you are currently being charged for involved an accident that caused the death of or serious injuries to another person
- There was a passenger of under 14 years of age in the car at the time that you were arrested and charged with DUI
By hiring a capable Philadelphia DUI defense attorney to advocate on your behalf and to highlight what makes you a good candidate for ARD, you will maximize your chances of being selected. If you get accepted into the ARD program, you must follow any number of court-ordered conditions, which may include:
- Substance abuse treatment and counseling
- Highway safety school
- Community service
- Restitution, or paying back the victim(s) for any loss
- Drug testing
Upon successful completion of the program, the court will dismiss your criminal charges. After you’ve completed the program, you may petition the court to expunge (or erase) the record of your arrest as well as your participation in ARD.
If you fail to complete the ARD requirements or if you violate one of the conditions, you will be removed from the program. The prosecutor will reopen the case against you and seek a criminal DUI conviction.
Should I Enroll in ARD or Fight My DUI Charges?
You will only have a definitive answer to this question after consulting with an experienced Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer, who can help you weigh the following factors:
- The defense strategies available to you in your particular case
- The cost of fighting the charges
- Your ability to adhere to the ARD program requirements
- The likelihood that you could get charged with DUI in the future
If you think you could possibly get charged with DUI again, it may be in your best interest to dig in and fight your charges now. This is because you will face a mandatory 5 to 90-day jail sentence for a second offense conviction.
How Michael Fienman Can Help
There is no doubt that facing a DUI charge is a frightening prospect, but through ARD you may not have to let it impact the rest of your life, and you certainly don’t need to go through it alone. At Fienman Defense, we stand ready to assist you in overcoming your DUI charge.
To learn more about how Philadelphia DUI defense attorney Michael Fienman can help, call (215) 839-9529 today for a free and confidential consultation.