Can I Serve My DUI Jail Sentence on House Arrest or Other Alternative Sentence?
A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) often carries a sentence of incarceration, in addition to substantial fines and costs. This can often lead to the loss of employment, which could have serious ramifications for your family or those that depend on you for care and financial support. Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, there are programs available to DUI offenders that offer alternatives to a jail sentence. Section 9763 of Pennsylvania’s Judicial Code authorizes a trial court to sentence an individual convicted of certain crimes to what is known as a “county intermediate punishment program.”
In Pennsylvania, eligible individuals convicted of DUI may be able to avoid severe mandatory minimum sentences by, instead, serving a sentence of intermediate punishment. The two available alternatives under the intermediate punishment program are house arrest and alternative housing (“half-way house”). House arrest requires individuals to wear an ankle bracelet, along with a tracking device at all times, which electronically monitors the individual’s location. The participant must wear this Global Positioning System (GPS) bracelet while serving her sentence. The GPS monitoring device will transmit the participant’s location to the probation department at all times. The GPS device can be programmed to monitor specific geographic areas where the detainee is prohibited from traveling while under supervision. If an individual under house arrest travels beyond the designated zones or violate other conditions of the program, the bracelet will transmit a signal, alerting the probation department. This device is not always required, but when it is, it is required to remain on the detainee’s body at all times. These individuals are required to remain in their homes and are only permitted to leave to travel to their place of employment, school, medical appointments, or religious services.
The other available form of intermediate punishment is alternative housing, also known as “halfway houses.” Alternative housing allows participants to live in a residential facility during some or all of their criminal sentences. In these facilities, individuals live in a community environment and are subject to strict requirements involving the attendance of treatment or educational programs, curfews, and gainful employment. These individuals are forbidden from using drugs or drinking alcohol. They are required to obtain permission before leaving the facility to participate in their required programs and to go to work or seek employment.
Some of these residential facilities offer substance abuse programming and employment services, while others also offer educational programs, cognitive therapy groups, life and parenting skills classes, anger management classes, behavior medication programs, spiritual programs, domestic violence counseling, and other similar programs for participants.
The decision to sentence a defendant to IP is within the discretion of the trial court, and cannot be made by the county adult probation department, as these agencies do not have the authority to determine the eligibility for, or to grant or deny alternative sentencing to a criminal defendant.
Common eligibility requirements include gainful employment; active pursuit of employment; involvement in an educational or vocational program; or a community service program.
These programs are not usually available for individuals whose DUI offense involved a serious accident resulting in death or personal injury. Moreover, these programs are restricted to non-repeat offenders.
If you are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, your freedom and future may be at risk if you do not act swiftly. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at Tanner Law Offices. Our team of skilled professionals is prepared to defend you through this challenging time and ensure your rights are fully protected. Please contact our office at 717-731-8114 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.