Frequently people will call our office after an arrest on drunk driving (DUI) charges. For many of those of accused of driving under the influence, it is their first offense and they are often eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (ARD).
ARD Eligibility—This is a discretionary program—You aren’t entitled to it
In most situations, a DUI offender is eligible for ARD if the following circumstances exist:
- It is the first offense in 10 years
- No other person other than the offender was seriously injured or killed
- There was no passenger in the offenders vehicle under the age of 14 at the time of the offense
Even if you’re offered the ARD program, it is important to keep in mind that you must complete certain conditions to remain in the program and entry into the program will usually result in a mandatory minimum license suspension.
The ARD drivers’ license suspension are as follows:
No suspension if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is under .10 and the offender isn’t a minor
A 30 day license suspension if the BAC is .10 but less than .16
A 60 day license suspension if the BAC is .16 or greater OR the DUI involves drugs or a violation of Pennsylvania’s Implied Consent Law
The suspension is 90 days if the defendant is a minor
Requirements of the ARD program in Pennsylvania
Prior to entry into the program, the individual must complete Court Reporting Network (CRN) drug and alcohol evaluation. Once that assessment is completed and if it indicates a need for counseling or treatment, the court is required to order treatment as indicated by the assessment. When the court orders treatment or counseling, it is required to order the statutory maximum as the top end of the offender’s sentence.
A full drug and alcohol assessment is required for DUI offenders prior to sentencing if any of the following apply:
The offender has a prior DUI offense within 10 years
The CRN indicates a need for further evaluation for counseling or treatment
The BAC was .16 or greater.
Condition of the ARD program—These aren’t negotiable
If a person is admitted to the ARD program, he or she must complete the following conditions:
alcohol and highway safety school,
probation supervision with a minimum of 6 months up to a maximum of 12 months,
a full drug and alcohol assessment if the BAC is /16 or greater or the CRN profile report indicates a need for further evaluation for drug and alcohol treatment,
mandatory license suspension as previously indicated,
restitution to any person who suffered a financial loss,
Payment of any fees, surcharge, or costs required by law including fees for AHSS (Alcohol and Highway Safety School),
Evaluation and treatment.
If a person fails to complete any of these conditions, the court will remove them from the program and therefore force the personto either proceed to trial or enter into a negotiated or open guilty plea.
ARD Ordered Drivers License Suspensions
Another point which people fail to understand is that, any ARD ordered license suspension is consecutive to all PennDot suspension. An ARD license suspension is not the result of a conviction but a condition of the program. PennDot suspensions for violation of the Commonwealth’s Implied Consent Law (DUI refusal) is separate and apart from all ARD sanctions. This means that the ARD suspension runs consecutive so a 60 day ARD suspension following a refusal will actually result in a 14 month license suspension.
While ARD is normally a better result than proceeding to trial, if the evidence is not favorable in your case, you should never enter into the program without understanding possible defenses at trial and pre-trial motions to suppress evidence.
Ignition Interlock Limited License & ARD License Suspension
One final point about ARD, there remains a situation in Pennsylvania where you could actually receive a court ordered suspension but no suspension following a conviction at trial. Under the new Ignition Interlock Limited License Law, all 1st time offenders are immediately eligible for the ignition interlock limited license with the exception for DUI refusals (6 months). This means that if you enter into the ARD program and were previously facing a conviction under 3802 (a) (b) (c) or (d) you would have to serve the ARD suspicion (30-60 days) but if you proceeded to trial and were convicted there would be no license suspension.
Most people have to weigh the pros and cons of a license suspension vs. a criminal conviction for a misdemeanor charge. For more information on DUI defense and ARD, I encourage you to visit my free download section.