Information about DUI Court in Allegheny County
The mission of Allegheny County’s DUI Court is to hold multiple DUI offenders accountable through bringing about behavioral change. The goal for every participant is to end DUI recidivism and/or other criminal behavior through the use of long term judicial intervention, intensive probation supervision and drug and/or alcohol treatment.
Specifically, DUI Court involves a long-term Intensive Probation/Electronic Home Monitoring (“EHM”) program designed to incorporate rehabilitation along with mandatory sentencing. Each participant is required to complete 40 hours of community service, obtain and maintain gainful employment and attend a Victim Impact Panel. Like many specialty courts, DUI Court uses sanctions and incentives to motivate compliance. A client’s success in DUI Court is largely up to their commitment to their own success and rehabilitation. They must want and be ready to address their substance and/or alcohol abuse issues. The more successful the participant, the more liberties awarded.
Referral & Eligibility to Allegheny County DUI Court.
A client considering application to DUI Court should have two (2) or more prior DUI convictions, regardless of the age of the priors. The DUI assessment process is a team oriented approach designed to take place at the front end of the criminal court process. A client wishing to participate in DUI Court, should, through his or her DUI attorney, complete a “DUI Court Referral Form.” However, it is also possible that the District Attorney’s Office has already identified the case as appropriate for DUI Court disposition at the pre-trial screening stage of the criminal proceedings.
Once the DUI Court referral is made, a client’s eligibility will be considered based on their prior criminal record, the current charges and certain geographical information (the client must be a resident of Allegheny County) prior to scheduling a plea date. The next step is scheduling an interview with the District Attorney’s Office to ensure the client qualifies for the program.
Following the interview, a plea date is scheduled and the client’s information (and the actual case file) is forwarded to the DUI Court Probation Team as well as the DUI Court specialist. Next and prior to the date of the plea, the client will be scheduled for an Electronic Home Monitoring/DUI Court screening which includes a review of the rules and regulations of the same. During this time, the client will also be assessed according to the Pennsylvania Client Placement Criteria (“PCPC”).
This assessment is designed to identify the client’s specific needs and risks associated with their substance and/or alcohol abuse. This information is used by the DUI Court Team to determine decisions concerning a client’s drug and alcohol treatment options, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and mental health treatment if deemed necessary.
Plea & Sentencing in Allegheny County DUI Court
Finally, the client enters a guilty plea. Following the plea, the client begins their participation in the DUI Court program (DUI Court is a post-disposition program) where they will receive drug and/or alcohol treatment, monitoring, and assistance with employment search and financial readiness.
All DUI Court participants will be under court supervision for up to six (6) years through a possible combination of incarceration, parole, intermediate punishment with electronic monitoring, and intensive probation. As previously stated, incentives exist to reduce the period of supervision.
Read part two of this segment to learn more about the five phases of the DUI Court program in Allegheny County.