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Montgomery County ARD Program | Top DUI Attorneys in Montgomery County

Town Law Publishing May 28, 2024

ARD Bucks CountyThe Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in Montgomery County, PA, is an opportunity for first-time, non-violent offenders to avoid a criminal conviction. This pre-trial diversionary program aims to rehabilitate offenders and allows for the dismissal and expungement of charges upon successful completion. This detailed guide covers the eligibility requirements, application process, and responsibilities of participants in the ARD program in Montgomery County, ensuring you have all the information needed to navigate this legal process.

Overview of the ARD Program

The ARD program in Montgomery County is designed to offer first-time offenders a chance to avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction. This program is especially beneficial for those charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or controlled substances. The goal is to rehabilitate offenders, reduce court congestion, and provide a second chance for eligible individuals.

Upon successful completion of the ARD program, charges against the defendant are dismissed, and their criminal record is expunged according to 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 prosecution on the original charges.

Eligibility Requirements for ARD

To be considered for the ARD program in Montgomery County, defendants must meet several eligibility criteria:

  1. Waiving the Preliminary Hearing and Pre-Trial Motions: Defendants must 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.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office reserves the right to consider additional factors that may disqualify a defendant from participating in the ARD program. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis.

The ARD Application Process

  1. Submission of Application: Defendants must complete and submit the ARD application to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. This application includes personal information, criminal history, and acknowledgment of the program's conditions and requirements.

  2. Review by ARD Department: The District Attorney’s Office reviews the application, including the defendant’s criminal record, any restitution owed, and the current criminal charges. This review process may delay the case being brought to trial.

  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 meet 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 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.

Community Service Requirements

All ARD candidates must complete community service as part of their program requirements:

  1. Minimum Hours: The minimum amount of community service for DUI ARD candidates is generally 24 hours.

  2. Non-DUI Cases: The community service requirement for non-DUI ARD candidates varies based on the specifics of the case.

  3. Conditions of Service: Defendants must comply with specific rules while performing community service, including punctuality, appropriate behavior, and adherence to the assigned work schedule.

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

Compliance with Bail Conditions

All defendants must contact the Montgomery 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.

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 Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office.

Rule 600 Waiver

By applying for ARD, defendants waive their speedy trial rights under Rule 600 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. This waiver is in effect from the time the ARD application is submitted until the defendant is either admitted into the program or denied. Defendants must acknowledge this waiver and understand that it may delay their trial.

Medical and Personal Information

Defendants must provide comprehensive personal information as part of the ARD application process, including:

  1. Contact Information: Full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address.

  2. Prior Record Information: Disclosure of any prior arrests, charges, or citations, including those dismissed or expunged.

  3. Domestic Information: Marital status, number of children, and details of individuals living with the defendant.

  4. Education and Employment: Highest level of education completed and current employment status.

  5. Military Status: Information about any military service, including branch, length of service, and type of discharge.

  6. Medical Conditions: Disclosure of any known medical conditions, disabilities, or prescribed medications that may affect the ability to perform community service.

Community Service Conditions

Defendants must adhere to specific conditions while performing community service, including:

  1. Timely Reporting: Report to the assigned work site on time for job-related instructions.

  2. Sobriety: Defendants must not be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while at the work site.

  3. Cooperation and Courtesy: Display cooperative and courteous behavior.

  4. Attendance: Notify the work site and the Community Service Division in advance of any absences.

  5. Injury Reporting: Report any injuries sustained during community service within 24 hours.

  6. Proper Attire: Wear appropriate work clothing and avoid prohibited items such as cell phones and earphones.

The ARD program in Montgomery County offers a valuable opportunity for first-time, non-violent offenders to avoid a criminal record and receive a second chance. By meeting the eligibility criteria and successfully completing the program requirements, defendants can achieve dismissal of their charges and expungement of their records. If you or someone you know is facing charges and may qualify for the ARD program, contact our firm today for a free consultation. The ARD program not only helps individuals avoid the long-term consequences of a criminal conviction but also promotes rehabilitation and accountability through structured intervention and support.