WHAT IS THE ARD PROGRAM AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program is a program which allows certain first-time offenders to avoid a criminal conviction. The most typical types of cases that proceed through the ARD program are DUI and Retail Theft cases. However, Zuckerman Law Firm has had success negotiating ARD admission on behalf of individuals charged with misdemeanor Simple Assault and Terroristic Threats charges, as well as felony Aggravated Assault.
If approved for admission into the ARD program, any trial on your criminal case is postponed for a period not to exceed 2 years. You are then placed on a period of ARD probation, and during this period of time, you must satisfy all the conditions of your ARD offer, which can include: drug, alcohol or mental health evaluations, highway safety school, community service, and the payment of court costs, fines and restitution.
Once you complete the program successfully, the criminal charges filed against you are dismissed, and you are eligible to expunge them from your criminal history. Some counties process your expungement automatically (i.e. Allegheny and Westmoreland), and other counties require you to file an expungement petition (i.e. Washington).
However, if you fail to satisfy all the conditions of the program, or are arrested on new criminal charges, you will be revoked from the program. Once revoked, your criminal case then becomes "active," and will be listed for trial, or a standard plea agreement.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF THE ARD PROGRAM?
The main advantage to the ARD program is avoiding both jail time and a criminal conviction on your record. One of the other advantages is a lack of jail time and a reduced driver's license suspension in DUI cases. Instead of serving a 12-month license suspension, DUI offenders who proceed through the ARD program receive suspensions ranging from 0-60 days depending on the severity of the DUI charge.
With ARD, your license suspension is 0 days for a general impairment or lowest BAC charge (.08-.10%), 30 days for a middle tier offense (.10-.159%), and 60 days for a highest tier offense (.16% and above, drug DUI charges, and DUI refusal charges).
ARE THERE CERTAIN FACTORS THAT COULD KEEP ME FROM GETTING INTO THE ARD PROGRAM?
The District Attorney's Office in the county where you are charged has the sole discretion on whether or not to admit or deny one's entry into the ARD program. Regardless of what the arresting officer may have told you about the program, the ultimate decision lies with the DA.
Certain factors can keep you from receiving an offer for admission. If you were involved in an auto accident or had a minor in your vehicle during the course of a DUI, you may be denied admission. Furthermore, unpaid child support or traffic tickets can preclude your entry. Furthermore, if you owe $10,000 or more in restitution in your criminal case, you could be denied entry. Other factors include offenders who were uncooperative with police or witnesses, or other inflammatory conduct which reflects negatively upon your character.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY TO HANDLE MY FIRST-OFFENSE DUI CASE OR ARD CASE?
First-time DUI offenders are not automatically granted admission into the ARD program. Many cases require a careful review of the facts and negotiations between the DA and your DUI defense lawyer. To improve your odds of obtaining an ARD offer, you are always best served having a skilled DUI attorney negotiate on your behalf.
Another benefit of having an attorney on your side is to ensure that you understand the program requirements, and don't make mistakes along the way that lead to you being kicked out of the program. Our firm has represented individuals who have failed to complete the ARD program because they didn't understand what the requirements were, and didn't comply as a result. We represented clients on ARD who failed to comply with probation, pay restitution, complete program requirements, and earn credit towards license suspensions. hese clients all had one thing in common: they failed to have an attorney throughout the process.
Some individuals choose to represent themselves, and the results work out just fine. However, others may waive their preliminary hearings and give up other constitutional rights, only to find out that they are denied entry into the program. Representing yourself on your 1st offense DUI case while relying upon a police officer's non-binding promises can be the wrong move.
Get a professional on your side to make sure everything goes according to plan. At Zuckerman Law Firm, we will review your discovery, negotiate your entry and program terms directly with the DA's office, and accompany you at all court appearances. You deserve to have the peace of mind, knowing that your future is in good hands.
For a free consultation on your ARD case, call Zuckerman Law Firm today at 412-447-5580. Attorney Zuckerman has successfully negotiated ARD resolutions for clients throughout Western Pennsylvania on DUI, Retail Theft, Simple Assault, Terroristic Threats and related cases. In most instances, we offer discounted rates for ARD representation.