Each year in Pennsylvania there are more than 50,000 individuals arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Roughly two of every three people will have some involvement with a DUI-related accident in their life. Among those on probation in Pennsylvania, nearly 20% were arrested for DUI. State law makes it mandatory for offenders to have an “assessment for alcohol and drug addiction.”
Courts in Pennsylvania continue to develop diversionary or alternative sentencing programs. These tend to involve treatment for substance abuse, mental health concerns, educational programming, and community service. Two of these apply specifically to DUI--the DUI Treatment Court and County DUI Intermediate Punishment programs.
Goals of DUI Treatment Court
The Policy and Procedure Manual for the 26th Judicial District explains that the DUI Treatment Court has several primary goals. It will lead to lower overall costs while promoting long-term recovery. Offenders will avoid drugs and alcohol, which will reduce recidivism and assist them in being productive citizens.
Philadelphia DUI Treatment Court Program
Defendants with a second or third DUI offense are eligible for the DUI Treatment Court. These are offenders who face minimum jail sentences of 90 days to one year. This program allows the offenders some relief from these long periods of incarceration. For example, those classified as Tier 3 with a second DUI offense may be eligible to complete 10 days in jail then the remaining 80 days on house arrest.
The Four Phases of Philadelphia DUI Treatment Court
- Assessment: The process of evaluating and selecting a treatment plan
- Sobriety and Treatment: A roughly two-month period focused on abstaining from drugs and/or alcohol and making progress in treatment
- Sobriety and Support: Involves completing a plan for sobriety support that reinforces the importance of long-term recovery
- Aftercare: Eight months that involves creating a plan of aftercare and strengthening the commitment to sobriety
DUI Intermediate Punishment Program
Those who participate in the Intermediate Punishment Program are individuals that would be sentenced to the county jail. According to the Sentencing Matrix, the defendants are in levels 3 and 4. The defendants enter a guilty plea and some of their jail time is converted to house arrest.
The mandatory minimum sentence for a second offense DUI is 90 days. In this scenario, the defendant must spend 20 days in custody and then 70 days on house arrest. The defendant is then placed on intensive probation for 275 days. During the probation period, the defendant will have regular visits with their probation officer, be subject to urine testing, and participate in an approved treatment program.
Following the period of intensive probation, the defendant will be placed on general probation for one year. This general supervision probationary period has less stringent conditions. The individual must also complete 40 hours of approved Community Service. The court may implement a variety of different conditions at their discretion.
Other potential conditions may include being prohibited from possessing firearms or to participate in therapy or counseling. The defendant is generally expected to maintain employment, satisfy family obligations, and notify the court of any change of address.
Legal Representation for Pennsylvania DUI Offenses
Those who are convicted on DUI charges may be penalized with jail time, fines, probation, and more. Individuals with prior DUI offenses face particularly harsh penalties and collateral consequences. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has years of experience defending these cases. Contact the office today for a consultation at (888) 535-3686.