The prosecutions of drunk drivers in Lancaster Count are about to be very different – and, officials hope, more efficient for all involved.
On Wednesday, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman unveiled a new program that will streamline prosecutions of the 1,500-plus DUI cases charged here each year.
Stedman, joined by President Judge Dennis Reinaker, District Judge Bruce Roth, Manor Township police Chief Todd Graeff and other key personnel, announced the opening of DUI Central Court.
Starting Oct. 1, all new DUI charges filed in Lancaster County will be prosecuted under the new system.
Here’s how it works:
- Initial implementation started Aug. 31, with new charges at southern county jurisdictions being transferred to DUI Central Court. By month’s end, all new charges should be transferred to central court.
- Structure: DUI Central Court will be held twice a month, beginning Oct. 1, at Lancaster County Court. Preliminary hearings will be scheduled as soon as charges are moved from the original district court to central court.
- At preliminary hearings, defendants have the option of: waiving the hearing, pleading guilty, or taking a hearing (at a later date). Attorneys will be on hand to negotiate plea agreements. No police or witnesses are required at this initial preceding, unless a preliminary hearing is requested.
Ultimately, the program will keep more police officers on the street (and out of court), and a centralized location for DUI cases.
“The easiest thing to do in government is change nothing," DA Stedman said at the conference. "That’s not the way we need to think. It’s truly an innovative program.”
Previously, initial hearings were held at district courts across Lancaster County, without a set time schedule.
Last year, 1,641 DUI charges were filed in Lancaster County – about 30 percent of the county’s entire criminal caseload.
Assistant District Attorneys Ande Gonzalez and Trista Boyd will be prosecuting cases in DUI Central Court.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org