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Alcohol legislation passes House

Increased monitoring could be coming for repeat DUI offenders.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, passed the House of Representatives recently 153-58 with Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, voting in favor.

A repeat DUI offender is an individual who is pending adjudication for a DUI and has one or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years; or is pending adjudication for two or more DUIs.

A substance monitoring program prohibits the individual from using alcohol, controlled substances or both while also being required to use or participate in any of the following for no less than 90 days as a condition of bail:

¯ A continuous alcohol monitoring device.

¯ A remote breath testing device or any other alcohol monitoring technology or device.

¯ Random drug testing or another controlled substance monitoring device.

“This bill is about using technology that is available to us today that wasn’t available to us before to do a couple of things,” Stephens said on the House of Representatives’ floor. “By utilizing this technology we can reduce our jail populations for our counties. We can reduce our costs to our taxpayers. And we can increase public safety by reducing recidivism for DUI. You don’t have to take my word for it because this is happening in Lancaster County, in York County. Many counties are using this substance monitoring technology to avoid incarcerating defendants.”

Data shows recidivism rates for repeat DUI offenders who wore a device for at least 90 days are 50% less than those who were alternatively sentenced. In York County, the program has resulted in a reduction in the number of DUI offenders arrested for another DUI within the first year, in DUI victims served by the district attorney’s office and in the number of alcohol-related crashes, Stephens said.

“The notion that this is an attack on poor people is completely off-based and misguided for two reasons,” Stephens said. “First of all the rules of criminal procedure provide that no one will be subject to adverse circumstances because for their economic condition but most importantly because we adopted the good gentleman from Philadelphia from the other side of the aisle’s amendment yesterday to ensure that, to ensure we were protecting those who might not have the means.”

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