Can I get ARD for my DUI charge?

Eligibility for ARD Program for DUI Charges

The ARD consideration process takes two steps – legal eligibility and then case suitability.  The first step is that a person must be eligible under the law.  In DUI cases, the law prohibits some people from being considered for the ARD program.  More specifically, 75 Pa.C.S. 3807 prohibits ARD consideration if:

  1. the person has a prior conviction or ARD disposition for a DUI offenses within 10 years of the current DUI incident
  2. the person had a passenger in the car that was under the age of 14
  3. that was an accident and someone else was killed or suffered a serious bodily injury as a result of the accident

If any of those factors are present in a case, the person is not legally eligible to receive ARD.  On issues 1 and 2, the prohibitions are very clear, and prosecutors will NOT recommend in ARD in those cases.  However, with 3, there can be some uncertainties as to what constitutes a “serious bodily injury.”  For example, if a passenger in a car suffered a broken arm, it could be argued that the injury was not “serious” and thereby the person was eligible to be approved for ARD.  In such cases, it is important to have an experienced DUI attorney to advocate for ARD.

Prosecutor Makes ARD Approval Decision

If a person is legally eligible to be approved for ARD, then step two is that the prosecutor reviews the facts and circumstances in a case, considers the prosecutor’s own criteria and factors, and the prosecutor then determines whether or not a person is approved for ARD.  Prosecutors often consider factors such as the blood alcohol level of the person, whether there was an accident, was anyone injured, was the person cooperative with the police, does the person have a prior criminal history or poor driving record, and is the person currently involved in drug or alcohol counseling.  A good DUI attorney may present a mitigation package to the prosecutor to show the client’s true character.  A mitigation package contains information like school transcripts, resume, work history, letters of recommendation or character letters, and evidence of treatment, and the purpose is to show the prosecutor that the client is a good person that simply made a mistake.

If the prosecutor approves ARD, the judges in most counties accept the prosecutor’s recommendation and allow ARD.  If the prosecutor denies ARD, the decision is difficult, if not impossible, to overturn.  There is no real appeal process for denial of ARD unless you can show that the prosecutor’s denial of ARD was because of the applicant’s gender, sexual orientation, race, or other discriminatory factors.

As every county’s ARD eligibility is established by the district attorney of that county, it is important to consult with a DUI attorney that has experience in the county in which the charges are filed to ensure that you obtain advice from an attorney familiar with the local procedures.

Free initial consultation

State College criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle has represented people charged with DUI in many counties across Pennsylvania, including Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Huntingdon, and Mifflin counties. If Attorney Dunkle does not practice in the county in which you have been charged, as a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, he can probably give you contact information for an experienced DUI defense attorney in your area. Contact Attorney Dunkle for a free consultation at (814) 954-7622 or via email.