Alternatives to Incarceration: ARD Programs in Bucks, Chester, Lehigh, and Montgomery Counties

For defendants charged with non-violent crimes with little or no prior criminal history, some counties in Pennsylvania offer the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program or ARD. Defendants that participate in ARD are most likely to be those charged with driving impaired offenses.

While the details and the results vary by county, Bucks, Chester, Lehigh, and Montgomery counties all offer some form of ARD. ARD is meant to be a tool to intervene in a defendant's life and give the defendant tools and skills so that he or she does not commit another criminal offense. Frequently, that means taking a chemical dependency assessment and following up with substance abuse treatment. It may also mean completing community service hours. Once a defendant has completed the ARD requirements, he or she can petition to have the criminal charges dismissed and the case expunged.

ARD in Bucks County

Defendants charged with summary offenses in Bucks County are eligible for ARD, but must have the approval of the district attorney to participate in the program. ARD lasts for three months and the participant must comply with all ARD terms and pay record costs and restitution if a victim's claim is proven. An accused who does not successfully complete ARD or who is charged with another offense during ARD may face trial. A participant who successfully completes ARD may have his or her record of criminal charges marked discharged.

ARD in Chester County

In Chester County, most participants in ARD have been cited or arrested for DUI or driving under the influence of a controlled substance. ARD participants are closely monitored by the district attorney and are enrolled in the Coad Group's alcohol education classes or substance abuse treatment, if needed. The defendant's driver's license is usually suspended, but for less than the one year required after a conviction. If the defendant fails to comply with the ARD program, he or she may face trial.

ARD in Montgomery County

Montgomery County offers ARD for DUI and non-DUI offenses. The Montgomery County District Attorney must approve ARD. ARD participants are supervised by the Adult Probation and Parole Department, and must call in from a landline once each month. Other terms of ARD may include completing Safe Driving School, making restitution and paying fines.

If you have been accused of a crime, whether it was a DUI-related offense, retail theft, or some other offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. ARD may be an option for you to turn your life around.

ARD in Lehigh County

In Lehigh County, DUI-related offenders that are ARD eligible are provided a specific arraignment/status-conference date with all other similarly situated offenders. The ARD eligible offender must complete his CRN before being admitted into the ARD program.

All non-DUI Lehigh County ARD eligible offenders must appear for a scheduled arraignment/status conference and apply for the ARD program in court. If the District Attorney's office approves this application, the offender may be placed on the program that same day.