Almost everyone can tell me what each letter in that acronym DUI stands for: Driving Under the Influence. However, I’m willing to bet that the same is not true for ARD. So, what is ARD and how does it work?

ARD stands for Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition and is a program that is generally available for first time DUI offenders. The program subjects the participant to the equivalent of probation for a period of at least a year. During that time, the participant will, among other things, pay certain fines and fees, attend driving safety classes, complete between 35 and 80 hours of community service and attend any required drug and alcohol counseling. Once those tasks have been successfully completed, the District Attorney will dismiss the DUI charges.

There are three significant advantages to successfully completing ARD:

  1. A clean criminal record - Once the DUI charges are dismissed (with the exception of any summary traffic charges, such as speeding or careless driving, that may have accompanied the DUI charges), they can be expunged from your criminal record. Even if they are not affirmatively expunged, ARD is not considered a criminal conviction. Thus, if any form you are filling out asks if you have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you can answer no.
  2. No jail time - Almost all DUI charges require a mandatory minimum of jail time upon conviction. ARD, on the other hand, requires no jail time. However, people who fail to successfully fulfill the ARD requirements, or are charged with another crime while in the program, risk being kicked out of ARD. Once that happens, they will be subject to the standard penalties if convicted.
  3. Reduced license suspension - Almost all DUI charges require a drivers license suspension of at least one year. In ARD, depending on the participant’s blood alcohol reading, age or whether there was an accident, the license suspensions are typically 30 or 60 days. It is important to note, however, that driving during either a DUI or ARD suspension is punishable by a minimum of 60 to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.00.