Over the past several years, Lancaster County has had between 300-400 impaired driving cases per year that involved individuals who had at least one prior DUI conviction within the last 10 years. This translates to a repeat DUI arrest every day and about 20% of all of our impaired driver arrests. These serial DUI offenders represent one of the greatest dangers to citizens of Lancaster County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole.
In response to this ongoing problem, District Attorney Craig Stedman looked for ways to deal with the repeat offenders and began to collaborate with President Judge Joseph C. Madenspacher to address the problem. As a result of this partnership, the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, the Office of the District Attorney of Lancaster County, and the Office of Bail Administration, are pleased to announce that the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners have approved the contract to enact the Lancaster County DUI Repeat Offender Program.
This program will combine traditional court supervision with new technologies designed to detect and alert authorities to alcohol consumption by any offender pending disposition and subject to the program thereby increasing public safety.
Beginning January 1, 2015, newly arrested DUI offenders with at least one prior DUI will be immediately taken before a Magisterial District Judge for a preliminary arraignment. At the time of the preliminary arraignment the Magisterial District Justice will have a new option to enact the following bail conditions in lieu of incarceration:
1. Defendant is to be under the supervision of the Lancaster County Office of Bail Administration and Pretrial Services and must report within two business days of supervised bail placement for intake and Alcohol Monitoring installation which entails the fitting of an ankle bracelet which will automatically detect alcohol consumption.
2. Defendant must comply with any rules and regulations associated with the Alcohol Monitoring Supervision until sentencing or the modification of existing bail order.
3. Defendant must undergo a Drug and Alcohol evaluation and follow through with any recommended treatment and/or random drug testing as deemed necessary.
4. Defendant must abstain from any and all use of alcohol and illegal substances.
5. Defendant will comply with an 11:00pm-5:00am curfew unless otherwise approved by the Lancaster County Office of Bail Administration and Pretrial Services.
Any violations of these bail conditions, such as alcohol consumption, illegal drug use or curfew violations will result in petition for bail revocation and issuance of an arrest warrant within 48 hours of the reported violation.
Public safety will benefit from this new program due to the increased monitoring as well as the newly enacted immediate consequences to second or subsequent arrest. Previously, most of these repeat offender arrest did not result in immediate arraignment and bail conditions but were instead handled by summons and thus there was little or no swift consequence to the repeat arrest.
We are pleased to note that there is absolutely no cost to the taxpayer or the County. Instead, alcohol monitoring supervision will be handled through an outside contractor, and the costs will be charged to the offender. In fact, because some of these individuals would otherwise have been incarcerated pending trial, prison population and costs are likely to drop to some degree. In addition, because defendants who are being monitored are more likely to want to resolve their cases more swiftly, court efficiency will increase and the taxpayer will benefit yet again.
Of even greater significance, the use of similar programs, namely York County’s Target 25 initiative, have resulted in demonstrably fewer repeat DUI cases, and most importantly, a reduction in the number of victims from DUI related incidents. As in York County, this program provides deterrence via stringent and immediate consequences for violations, and through that deterrence will make Lancaster County a safer place to travel.
The Lancaster County District Attorney would like to thank the York County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance as well as President Judge Madenspacher for his leadership in enacting this new program.