In April 2021, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill allowing courts to order an alcohol monitoring device instead of jail time in a repeat conviction for driving under the influence. A few counties already use this device to decrease DUI-related accidents.
Review the possible changes to come if the state legislature finalizes this bill.
New alcohol monitoring program
The court can decide what type of device to use when ordering this type of penalty. Options include a mobile breathing tester, random drug testing or wearable alcohol monitor. In each case, the convicted person bears responsibility for the cost of the chosen device. Judges can decide on substance use monitoring as a condition of probation, parole or bail for convicted individuals.
For example, Butler County uses the SCRAM ankle bracelet continuous ankle monitor for their DUI program. Currently, they offer this option for individuals on probation.
Changes to the ARD program
One of the bill’s current provisions updates the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which provides the opportunity for diversion after DUI for first-time non-violent individuals. If the law passes, ARD admission will now count as a prior conviction if a person has subsequent DUI offenses in Pennsylvania. Offenders can no longer challenge the use of ARD as a prior conviction by the court.
Individuals facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania should explore all available avenues. In addition to ARD and alcohol monitoring, many areas offer drug court programs. These special diversion courts help those struggling with substance use disorder achieve a drug-free and alcohol-free life outside the criminal justice system.