Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)

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What is ARD?

ARD is short for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition and is a program unique to Pennsylvania. ARD is designed for first-time offenders of certain non-violent crimes who avail themselves to treatment and rehabilitation, and who are unlikely to commit another crime. ARD is considered a diversionary program; it is an alternative to trial, to conviction, and to some of the mandatory penalties a conviction brings.

How do I qualify for ARD?

Whether or not you qualify for ARD depends on a number of factors. You will only be considered for ARD if you have no prior delinquency or criminal activity or have led a law-abiding life for a substantial amount of time before the commission of the present crime. Only non-violent offenders will be considered for ARD. Whether or not you are accepted into the ARD program depends upon whether you meet specific criteria. This includes:

  • No prior criminal history
  • If the offender previously participated in the ARD program, it must have been more than 10 years ago
  • No third party was harmed or killed if the offender was involved in a drunk driving accident
  • The current DUI involved a passenger under the age of 14.
  • The offender has not already been convicted at trial
  • The offender successfully applies for admission into the ARD program through the county’s District Attorney’s Office within the deadline

Ultimately, it is the District Attorney of the county in which your offense occurred that determines whether you are accepted into ARD. The police officer involved will also have an opportunity to offer comments on whether you should be accepted into the program. In addition, the victim of the crime (if any) will also have the chance to offer their comments to the DA. This may also include a “Victim’s Impact Statement” which details the physical, psychological and economic effects your wrongdoing has had on the victim and his or her family. It is important to know that there is no absolute right to the ARD program and it is something that should be taken seriously.

In addition to the above, acceptance into the ARD program is also conditioned on the requirement that you plead guilty to any summary offenses. For example, if you are charged with DUI, you must plead guilty to any accompanying motor vehicle offenses. However, you do not have to admit to any wrongdoing as to the crimes you are seeking to dismiss through ARD.

What are the steps I need to take to get accepted into the ARD program?


Each county has its own requirements for all ARD applicants.  In Delaware County, for example, they include:

  1. Waiver of formal arraignment
  2. 14 days before scheduled arraignment, you must include:
    1. Attorney’s entry of appearance and waiver of arraignment form
    2. ARD Rule 600 Waiver form (right to speedy trial)
    3. ARD application
  3. Accept delayed pre-trial conference date (approximately six months after your formal arraignment)
  4. Waive Rule 600 speedy trial rights
  5. You must have an attorney
  6. Fingerprinted

As stated above, each county has its own application process. I can help you apply in Philadelphia County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Chester County.

What are the conditions of the ARD program?


The specific conditions of the ARD program are determined on a case by case basis. Each individual will be required to perform community service. The number of hours to be completed is usually determined by the District Attorney. In addition, you will be placed under supervision, much like probation. This cannot exceed two years. If your offense involves theft, you will have to pay full restitution (the value of the item stolen). For DUI cases, there is an additional set of requirements that must be met. See the ARD and DUI section below.

Are there costs associated with the ARD program?

In addition to community service, your probationary supervision and restitution (if any), you will be required to pay the costs of the program. The cost of the program varies in each county.  State law requires all participants to pay a monthly supervisory fee of $25.00. This can also be paid in full on the day of your ARD hearing.

What happens after I complete the program? Fail to comply with the program?


Upon successful completion of the program, your charges will be dismissed and you will have a clear record.

If you fail to fulfill any of the requirements of the ARD program, the DA will seek to have you removed from the program. Noncompliance can be:

  • not attending supervision meetings;
  • failing to attend a court mandated DUI School;
  • failing to pay any court ordered restitution; or
  • violating any condition of your ARD program that is required by the court

When you’re in violation of your ARD program, your original charges will be reinstated. You will be prosecuted on the original charges and you will be sentenced if convicted.

Should I apply for ARD?


Not all individuals who qualify for ARD should necessarily apply. If your attorney thinks the facts of the case warrant a dismissal, or if there is a good chance of being found not-guilty after trial, then ARD may not be the best option. Remember – ARD only comes around once and you want to use it wisely.

ARD and DUI: What you should know

If you are facing your first DUI arrest, you may be eligible for ARD. To be eligible for ARD in a DUI case, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • First DUI offense and no other prior misdemeanor, felony or ARD disposition (in at least 10 years);
  • No serious bodily injury to a passenger of the vehicle  as a result of an accident;
  • No passenger under 14 years old could have been in the vehicle you were operating;
  • You must have had a valid driver’s license (not suspended, revoked, or cancelled) at the time of DUI arrest;
  • You must undergo a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation prior to admission into the ARD program, and participate thereafter in any recommended treatment or counseling;
  • You must apply for ARD at the time of your preliminary hearing.

Note: Other requirements may include completion of a safe driving class and obtaining a drug    and alcohol evaluation.

If you are accepted into the ARD program, you will also face the following license suspension based on your BAC%:

  • 0.10 % or less – no suspension;
  • 0.10 % to less than 0.16 % – 30 day suspension;
  • 0.16 % or greater – 60 day suspension.

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