Legal Updates

The Real Reason For DUI Treatment Court (DUITC)

According to a recent poll by NPR, the approval rating for Congress stands at 7%.  The rating is the lowest in the history of the poll.  Congress is viewed so poorly because The People recognize that it is a corrupt, self interested political body.  The people in congress care more about platitudes than action, more about appearance than reality.

Self interested lawmakers are the reason for the state of the current DUI Mandatory Minimum Laws in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, the mandatory minimum sentence for a DUI second offense, highest tier is 90 days incarceration. This means that a priest convicted of DUI, Second Offense, Highest Tier is looking at ninety days in jail.

Ninety days in jail is a long time and can destroy your life.  An employer may not be sympathetic to the extended absence.  A lover may move on as you languish behind bars.

The Philadelphia DA designed Driving Under The Influence Treatment Court (DUITC) to cope with the discrepancies between lawmakers wanting to appear tough on crime, and the reality that many DUI offenders are good people.  It seeks to provide rehabilitative options to second time offenders.  It is a great program that should be considered where the Defendant chooses not to fight the case.

Under the program, defendants plead guilty and some of their mandatory jail time is converted to house arrest.  Defendants facing a 90 day mandatory sentence serve 10 days in county custody followed by 80 days house arrest with a concurrent period of two years probation.  Defendants may work and go to substance abuse treatment while on house arrest.  Defendants facing a one year mandatory sentence serve six months in county custody followed by six months house arrest with a concurrent period of three years probation.  Defendants may work and go to substance abuse treatment while serving the six months county sentence through work release and while on house arrest.

The program covers four phases over a twelve month period.  Phase 1 lasts one month and focuses on treatment after an assessment of the defendant.  The assessment determines the severity of the defendant’s substance abuse issues and whether the defendant is in need of in-patient, intensive out-patient or out-patient treatment.  The goal is to be sober and clean and to begin work on an individual treatment plan.  Phase 2 lasts two months.  The goal is to be sober and clean and to complete the individual treatment plan.  Phase 3 lasts one month.  The goal is to be sober and clean and to complete a sober support plan.  Phase 4 lasts eight months.  During these eight months the defendant must maintain 100% abstinence from drugs and alcohol and is encouraged to implement their treatment aftercare plan.  It is important to note any missed treatment sessions or relapses will hinder the defendant’s progression through the program, causing their length of time in DUI Treatment Court to exceed the twelve month period.

These phases are steps towards sobriety and include mandatory drug and alcohol treatment, regular urine testing, meetings with case managers, and attendance at monthly progress listings before a supervising judge.   Infractions of the program will result in the defendant receiving one of the program’s graduated sanctions.  Sanctions include writing essays, increased reporting and short jail stays.

Upon completion of the four phases, defendants graduate and their probation is terminated.  They will no longer be under court supervision.  The case is marked closed at that point.

(Source: DA Diversionary Programs Pre-Trial Packet)