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Chester County ARD Program | Best Chester County DUI Attorneys

Town Law Publishing May 28, 2024

ARD Bucks County

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program in Chester County, PA: A Comprehensive Guide

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in Chester County, PA, is designed to offer first-time, non-violent offenders an opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction. By successfully completing the ARD program, defendants can have their charges dismissed and their criminal records expunged. This article provides an in-depth look at the ARD program, its eligibility requirements, the detailed process involved, and the specific conditions that participants must meet.

Overview of the ARD Program

The ARD program is a pre-trial intervention program aimed at rehabilitating offenders without the stigma of a criminal conviction. It is particularly beneficial for those charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or controlled substances. The primary goal of the ARD program is to swiftly and efficiently resolve charges, thereby reducing the need for prolonged trials and other court proceedings.

Upon successful completion of the ARD program, defendants can avoid the mandatory terms of imprisonment typically associated with their offenses, have their charges dismissed, and their criminal records expunged pursuant to Rules 319 and 320 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. However, failure to comply with the program’s terms or an arrest for a new offense during the ARD term will result in removal from the program and the resumption of prosecution on the original charges.

Eligibility Requirements for ARD

To be considered for the ARD program in Chester County, defendants must meet several criteria. These include:

  1. Waiving the Preliminary Hearing and Any Pre-Trial Motions: Defendants must agree to waive their right to a preliminary hearing and any pre-trial motions.

  2. No Prior ARD or Diversionary Program: Defendants should not have participated in any ARD or similar diversionary program within the past 10 years.

  3. No Prior DUI Convictions: Defendants must have no more than one prior DUI conviction or ARD for DUI in their lifetime.

  4. No Serious Accidents: If the offense involved an accident where someone other than the defendant was seriously injured or killed, they are not eligible.

  5. No Child Passengers: Defendants cannot have had a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of the arrest.

  6. Good Driving Record: Defendants must have a relatively clean driving record.

  7. No High-Speed Driving: Driving at speeds of 100 miles per hour or more disqualifies a defendant.

  8. No Felony Convictions: Any prior felony convictions render a defendant ineligible.

  9. Honest Application: Defendants must provide truthful answers regarding their criminal history.

Additionally, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office may consider other factors that could disqualify a defendant from participating in the ARD program. There is no guaranteed right to participate in ARD, and eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the District Attorney’s Office.

The ARD Process

  1. Application Submission: Defendants must submit an ARD application and waive their preliminary hearing at the time of submission. This application includes personal information, criminal history, and an acknowledgment of the program's conditions and requirements.

  2. Review by ARD Department: The Chester County District Attorney’s Office reviews the application. The police officer involved in the case and the victim (if applicable) are given opportunities to provide input. The victim can submit a written victim impact statement detailing the effects of the crime.

  3. Conditional Approval: If the application is conditionally approved, an ARD hearing date is scheduled. This hearing typically occurs approximately six weeks from the application date.

  4. ARD Hearing: If the application is finally approved at the ARD hearing, the defendant is formally admitted into the program. If the application is denied, the ARD hearing date becomes the formal arraignment date, and the defendant will be prosecuted as provided by law.

Requirements for DUI ARD Candidates

Defendants charged with DUI must adhere to specific requirements:

  1. Court Reporting Network (CRN) Evaluation: All DUI ARD candidates must undergo a CRN evaluation to assess their involvement with alcohol or controlled substances.

  2. Drug and Alcohol Assessment: Based on the CRN evaluation, a more comprehensive assessment by an approved treatment provider may be required.

  3. Completion of Treatment Programs: Defendants must successfully complete any prescribed treatment programs. The type and duration of treatment will be determined by the assessment.

  4. Alcohol Highway Safety School: Attendance and successful completion of an approved Alcohol Highway Safety School is mandatory.

  5. Payment of Fees: A $300 fee must be paid to Adult Probation before the ARD hearing. Additional costs and fines are also applicable.

  6. Summary Offenses: DUI ARD defendants must waive the preliminary hearing for all vehicle code summary offenses and, in most cases, plead guilty to these offenses as part of the program requirements.

Non-DUI ARD Candidates

For non-DUI cases, the ARD program also imposes community service requirements and other probation-like conditions, including restitution. The amount of community service required depends on the nature of the case and other factors such as prior criminal history or violations of ARD procedures. The length of the program for non-DUI offenses cannot exceed two years.

License Suspension

Acceptance into the ARD program for a DUI charge results in a mandatory license suspension based on the defendant's Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the time of the arrest:

  • BAC under 0.10%: No suspension

  • BAC 0.10% - 0.159%: 30-day suspension

  • BAC 0.16% or higher: 60-day suspension

  • BAC unknown or DUI-Drugs: 60-day suspension

  • Accidents involving bodily injury or property damage: 60-day suspension

  • Defendants under 21 years old: 90-day suspension

Community Service

All ARD candidates are required to complete community service. The minimum amount of community service for DUI ARD candidates is generally 60 hours. The community service requirement for non-DUI ARD candidates varies based on the specifics of the case and the timeliness of the application.

Compliance with Bail Conditions

All defendants must contact the Chester County Pretrial Services Unit within 24 hours of applying for the ARD program and must comply with all bail conditions. Violating any bail condition can result in denial of the ARD application or additional penalties.

Costs Associated with ARD

The total costs for participating in the ARD program can vary based on the specifics of the case. The estimated costs include various administrative fees, court costs, and probation supervision fees, which must be paid before the ARD hearing. For DUI cases, costs can range from approximately $1,880.75 to $2,780.75, depending on the length and specific requirements of the program.

Additional Considerations

  1. Restitution: Defendants are expected to compensate the victims of their criminal conduct for any damage or injury sustained. Restitution is an important component of the ARD program.

  2. Compliance with ARD Conditions: Failure to comply with any ARD program requirements is grounds for removal from the program.

  3. Subsequent Offenses: If accepted into ARD for a DUI offense, the ARD disposition will be considered a “prior offense” for any subsequent DUI offense committed within ten years. This can result in increased penalties for future offenses.

  4. Legal Representation: It is highly recommended that defendants obtain an attorney to navigate the ARD process. Those without sufficient financial resources can apply for representation through the Chester County Public Defender’s Office.


The ARD program in Chester County provides a valuable opportunity for first-time, non-violent offenders to avoid a criminal record. By adhering to the eligibility criteria and successfully completing the program requirements, defendants can achieve a fresh start. If you or someone you know is facing charges and may qualify for the ARD program, contact our office today for a free consultation.