What is ARD in PA (Costs and Fees)?

ARD in PA may not be the best choice for everyone

What is ARD?

ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. ARD is a program for first time offenders. If you successfully complete the program, the prosecutor will dismiss the case and you can expunge your criminal record. However, expungement after ARD doesn’t really mean that the record goes away forever. For instance, if you successfully complete the program and have the record expunged, it will still be able to be see by law enforcement agencies such as police and the district attorney, as well as state licensing agencies such as the medical board. Government agencies and in particular the DOD will have access to it. In addition, if you go into ARD for a DUI, that DUI will still be on your driving record for at least 10 years.

When selecting which attorney to hire, please consider:

  • Can you call anytime and talk to a live person?
  • Do they offer payment plans with no credit checks?
  • Will your attorney be attentive and explain what’s going on?

At The McShane Firm, we answer yes to all of these questions. We strive to provide you with a great customer service experience during this tough time.

Who is eligible for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition?

Per the Pennsylvania Code, the primary purpose of the program is for “first offenders who lend themselves to treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment and that the crime charged is relatively minor and does not involve a serious breach of public trust.” 234 Pa Code §301 et. seq.

The vehicle code generally allows for acceptance into the A.R.D. program for a first offense DUI, but there are certain exceptions. A person shall not be considered for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition if they have previously completed ARD for a DUI or have a prior conviction for a DUI in the previous 10 years; if there was an accident where someone other than the defendant was injured or killed; or if there was a passenger in the car under 14 years old. 75 Pa.C.S. §3807(a).

The determination of eligibility for Non-DUI cases is very fact and county specific. You want to make sure you have an attorney who understands the guidelines for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition in the county where your case is pending.

How do I know if A.R.D. is right for me?

There are many lawyers out there who will look at your case, see that it is a first offense and automatically assume that Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is the best solution. At The McShane Firm, we never look at ARD as a first resort, it is always a last resort. Before concluding that A.R.D. is the right choice for you, your attorney should evaluate your case from all sides, looking at all possible defenses and all possible outcomes, before coming to the conclusion that ARD is right for you. In some cases, ARD is the right choice, but you should never make that decision without a full evaluation of your case. You only get to use this “get out of jail free card” once.

What are the benefits of the ARD program?

  • Successful Completion of the A.R.D. program results in a dismissal of the charges and a “clean” record. You will be able to legally state that you have never been “convicted” of a crime. However, a DUI will remain on your driving record for at least 10 years and your participation in the ARD program for any crime will still be accessible to law enforcement agencies and state licensing agencies.
  • ARD is not an admission of guilt. Due to a recent change in the law, successful completion of ARD for a DUI cannot be used as a prior conviction for a subsequent DUI arrest.
  • In DUI cases, the A.R.D. program typically results in a reduced license suspension.
  • ARD supervision is like probation light. Many considere ARD “non-reporting” probation. As long as you complete all your requirements, you will have little involvement with your ARD supervisor.
  • No jail sentence.

What is The McShane Difference?

  • We take time to understand your personal needs and goals. Then we cater our legal strategy to fit you.
  • We care about you. We listen and return phone calls. We will take time to explain things so you are not left anxious in the dark.
  • We will make this as easy as possible. We will try to minimize the number of times you have to be in court which means less disruption of your work and family life.

Does this sound like what you are looking for in an attorney? If yes, then take the next step and call (717) 657-3900.

What at the downsides of ARD?

  • It can be expensive. In addition to your fines and costs, you will have to pay a specific Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition fee.
  • If you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), PennDOT will disqualify your CDL license for 1 year, even if you suffer no loss of your regular driver’s license.
  • Successfully completing ARD does not necessarily mean it goes away. If your ARD was for a DUI, that will remain on your driving record for 10 years.  Law enforcement agencies and state licensing agencies will have access to ARD records for DUIs and criminal case forever, even if your record is expunged.

What is the procedure for getting into the program?

If after a full and complete discussion with your attorney about all of your options, you have decided the ARD is right for you, an application for admission into the ARD program is submitted to the District Attorney’s Office. The application asks general background information including if you have any prior criminal history. Once the DA’s office accepts your application, ARD court is scheduled. Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition court is the date that the ARD probation begins. While requirements vary from county to county, typically there are a few things that you must do prior to entry into the program. These include paying the ARD fee and completing a CRN evaluation. You should complete these prior to your ARD court date. Failure to compete these tasks before your court date could result in exclusion from the ARD program. 

What happens once I am in the ARD program?

Upon entry into the ARD program, the court tells you what the conditions are. You must complete your conditions within the term of your ARD program. Some conditions are mandatory in all case. Some are case specific depending on the facts of your case. Conditions include things such as:

  • No new violations of the law
  • Community service
  • Drug and Alcohol Evaluation and follow up treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School (DUI cases)
  • Attend MADD Victim Impact Panel (DUI cases)
  • Payment of all fines and costs

The length of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program can be anywhere from 6 to 24 months. For a typical DUI case, the length is usually 12 months. Once the time is up and you have completed all the requirements of the program, you will have successfully completed the ARD program and the case is eligible for expungment.

What happens if I don’t agree to the terms of the ARD program?

If you do not agree to the terms of the program, A.R.D. will be denied and your case will proceed to court where you will either enter a negotiated plea or have a trial.

Our Clients are entitled to a Bill of Rights which states:

  • Our clients have the right to expect, we will be proactive in communication. You will hear it from us first. We will return all phone calls, texts and emails promptly.
  • Our clients have the right to expect plain speaking, straight shooting. No B. S.
  • Our clients have the right to expect us to do it right the first time, every time.
  • Our clients have the right to expect us to be on time and professionally prepared for all court appearances, and all meetings.
  • Our clients have the right to expect that they will be fully informed at all times.

This is our promise to you. Call today to get us on your side: (717) 657-3900.

What happens if I violate the terms of ARD?

That depends on what the violation is. If you do not complete your community service or pay your fines in time, the district attorney will typically ask for an extension of your A.R.D. term to allow you time to complete your requirements. If this happens, you will have to pay the additional supervision fees associated with the extension. The District Attorney also has the option to revoke you from the program. If you get new criminal charges, you will likely be revoked from the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program immediately. You will then have the choice to enter a negotiated plea agreement or go to trial. 


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