One of the questions I am frequently asked by nearly every client who seeks assistance with the ARD Program following a DUI arrest is, “Will my completion of the ARD Program count as a conviction?” The answer . . . it depends.
With respect to job applications submitted to potential employers, many employers ask on a job application whether or not the applicant has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in their lifetime, or within a certain number of years from the date of application. In this context, if a person has successfully completed the ARD Program, they may answer, “no” to this question. ARD in Pennsylvania is not considered a conviction, but is, rather, an alternative means of disposition for a first DUI offense. It is offered as an opportunity for first time offenders to avoid serving a jail sentence and avoid having a conviction.
A person who has successfully completed the ARD program is eligible to have the charge expunged from his or her record, which would guarantee that a typical employer running a background check would have no information pertaining to the charge. This is not to say that you should not be open and honest with a potential employer, but when asked if you have been convicted of a crime, you can confidently say no.
So how does your ARD count as a conviction? Successful completion of the ARD Program does count as a conviction for purposes of subsequent DUI offenses. PennDOT and other state and local police departments retain information with regard to persons who successfully complete the ARD Program. This information is retained because, while an ARD may not be a conviction, it does count as a first offense for sentencing purposes if a person is arrested for a subsequent DUI offense within a period of ten (10) years after the first “conviction.” For an additional explanation on the DUI penalties, click here.