ARD for DUI – Allegheny County

The ARD for DUI Program in Allegheny County / Pittsburgh, PA

Can ARD Help First-time DUI Offenders Keep Their License and Avoid a Criminal Record? 

If you were charged with DUI for the first time in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible for the ARD Program.

For first-time DUI arrests in Pennsylvania the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program offers a much better outcome of a DUI arrest than a criminal DUI conviction.

For starters, a first DUI conviction in Pennsylvania, depending on your BAC level (blood alcohol content), could mean losing your license for up to one year, spending up to six months in jail, and having to pay up to $5,000 in fines.

A DUI conviction could also mean having a misdemeanor on your permanent criminal record. A criminal record is available for any potential employers, landlords or college admission offices to see. In other words, the penalties in Pennsylvania for a DUI conviction are high. 

But the ARD Program for first-time DUI offenders can significantly reduce these penalties by allowing you to keep your license (or to shorten suspension time), keeping you from having to spend time in jail, and keeping the charges off your record. 

Not everyone who is charged with DUI is accepted into the program – speak with a qualified DUI Attorney to learn more your options. 

A DUI charge is NOT a conviction.

It helps to have an experienced Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer on your side to listen to the details of your case and go through the process of applying for the ARD Program. Our experienced and aggressive attorneys will work hard to get the best possible outcome for you. There are other ways to fight a DUI in court and we can go through all the options together. 

If you have been charged with a DUI, call Ketchel Law today for a free legal consultation at 412-456-1221.


Our Number One Goal: Getting Your DUI Charges Dismissed.



An Arrest is Not a Conviction.



Acceptance into the Allegheny County ARD Program for First-time DUI Offenders

The ARD program is only for first-time DUI offenders and admission to ARD is at the sole discretion of the District Attorney’s Office. There are several qualifications that must be met to even be considered as a candidate for the ARD program.

Qualifications into the ARD Program for first-time DUI offenders include:

  • It must be your first offense. This means no prior offenses and no previous enrollment in ARD. The “look back” period in Pennsylvania is ten years for previous DUI and other criminal convictions;
  • No serious bodily injury occurred as a result of an accident from the DUI charge;
  • You must have been driving with a valid license at the time of your DUI arrest. There cannot have been a suspended or revoked license involved in the DUI offense;
  • There cannot have been any passengers under the age of 14 years during the DUI offense, and;
  • You must submit to an evaluation by a court specialist.

ARD Program Requirements for First-time DUI Offenders

If you meet all of the qualifications and the District Attorney’s office accepts you into the ARD program, you will then have requirements to fulfill as part of the program, such as attending drug and alcohol treatment, attending Alcohol Highway Safety School, and attending meetings and paying any court ordered restitution.

Additional requirements may be mandated depending on your specific case. Additional requirements may be added as the court sees fit in order to aid in the rehabilitation process. Not every ARD participant has the same set of requirements laid before them. Generally the probationary period is for one year. 

Generally, the requirements of the ARD Program include:

  • Attending drug and/or alcohol counseling / rehabilitation;
  • Attending Alcohol Highway Safety School;
  • Passing routine drug and alcohol tests to prove sobriety;
  • Fulfilling community service requirements;
  • Meeting with a program supervisor on a regular basis, and;
  • Paying court costs, fines and restitution, as well as other legal fees associated with the ARD program.

This may sound like a lot to ask. But in exchange for following the program and completing the requirements, you are able to avoid jail time, lessen or avoid a license suspension, and you are eligible to keep your criminal record clean.

In addition, participants of ARD: 

  • Must not use alcohol or drugs during the program, and;
  • Must have no further criminal charges while admitted to the program.

If you do not comply with the requirements of the Pennsylvania ARD program, the district attorney can have you removed and you will face your original DUI charges and respective penalties upon conviction. 

The Allegheny County ARD Probation Program lists the following goals for the program on their website:

  1. To provide the first-time, non-violent offender an opportunity to have their criminal charges expunged;
  2. To hold the offender responsible while providing him/her an opportunity to atone for his/her criminal behavior;
  3. To provide the offender with treatment options;
  4. To restore the financial burden incurred by the victim(s), and;
  5. To foster judicial economy.

Benefits of the ARD Program

Being accepted into the ARD program potentially removes the DUI from your permanent record (once you have the charges expunged). In addition, the amount of time you will lose your license is dramatically reduced.

Generally speaking, the ARD Program can help you:

  • Keep your license;
  • Keep you out of jail;
  • Keep your record clean. 

Keeping Your License.

The punishment for DUI is reduced through successful completion of the ARD Program. For example, if convicted of DUI at the highest level BAC, you would receive an automatic one year license suspension. But under the ARD Program, your license may only be suspended for two months or not at all, depending on your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level at the time of the arrest.

If you were charged with DUI, you could have your license suspension reduced as follows:

Possible license suspension through successful completion of the ARD Program:

  • BAC .08-.99%: no license suspension;
  • BAC .1—.16%: 1 month license suspension;
  • BAC over .16%: 2 month license suspension.

Staying Out of Jail.

Usually a first time DUI with a low BAC level will not send you to jail. However, a high BAC DUI conviction could put you in jail for up to six months. The ARD program can keep you out of jail, even with a high BAC level. 

Keeping Your Record Clean.

If you are convicted of a DUI, even a DUI at a low BAC level, you will receive a misdemeanor on your criminal recored available for anyone to see—colleges, universities, loan officers, insurance companies, landlords, etc. A criminal record can make the future much more difficult than it would be otherwise.

The upside of completing the ARD program is that you can later have the DUI criminal charges expunged from your record and the charges dismissed. An DUI attorney can help you with the criminal expungement process in Pennsylvania.

It is important to note, however, that while completion of Pennsylvania’s ARD program allows for the expungement of the DUI from your criminal record, it does not remove it from the court records.

If you are arrested for a subsequent DUI, you will be charged with a second DUI and have to face the penalties for a second DUI conviction, not a first DUI conviction (if within a ten year time frame).

Know all the Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Pennsylvania and the Consequences you face for a DUI Conviction.

How a Pittsburgh DUI Attorney Can Help

Attorney Ketchel is a top Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer. His team is experienced, aggressive and will work hard to try to get your charges dropped or significantly reduced.  Whether this is through applying for ARD acceptance or entering a not-guilty plea and fighting the DUI charges, we are with our clients every step of the way.

We will give you the options most fitting for your situation and circumstances and that have the best chance of getting the best possible outcome for you and your family. 

We use our own experts to show why the blood or breath test reading was not accurate and we use the applicable case law to seek a full dismissal of your case when you were stopped without reasonable suspicion or arrested without probable cause.

Attorney Ketchel’s extensive experience as a former public defender gives him a distinct advantage when handling DUI cases. His number one goal: Having your charges dismissed.

At Ketchel Law, we will do everything we can to minimize your expenses. You are never charged for phone calls or emails and your initial consultation is always free. We understand what you are going through and will tirelessly fight on your behalf to ensure that your arrest has a minimal impact on every aspect of your life.


Our Number One Goal: Getting Your DUI Charges Dismissed.




Learn More About DUI Laws in Pennsylvania:

A DUI Attorney can also better explain what to expect and the process of getting accepted into the ARD Program.