Court reverses denial of house arrest for second offense DUI
There are numerous sentencing alternatives available to offenders who are convicted of a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge. At the county level, these sentencing alternatives are generally referred to as county intermediate punishment programs. One of the most common of those sentencing alternatives is house arrest.
In a recent case, Commonwealth v. Hoffman, the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed whether on a second offense DUI, a trial court judge had authority to sentence a defendant to a term of house arrest. In Hoffman, the Defendant was involved in an accident in a Philadelphia parking garage. When police arrived on the scene, he refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. It was later determined that the Defendant had one prior DUI offense within the past ten years. The Defendant pled guilty to DUI and at his sentencing hearing, the Defendant requested that a period of house arrest be imposed. The Commonwealth did not object to intermediate punishment being imposed. The trial court, however, sentenced the Defendant to a period of incarceration of not less than ninety days to not more than six months. In denying Defendant’s request for intermediate punishment, the trial court judge advised that she did not have authority to order house arrest.
On appeal, the Superior Court analyzed multiple sections of the Sentencing Code and the interplay between the Sentencing Code and the applicable penalty section of the DUI law. The Superior Court determined that a judge does have discretion to impose an alternative sentence, such as house arrest when a defendant is convicted of a second offense DUI and has refused to supply a breath or blood sample. The Court reasoned that the legislature intended county intermediate punishment programs to be a means of protecting society while simultaneously providing efficient and economical correction services.
Understanding the law and the different options available is critical to anyone facing a DUI charge. It is imperative that you contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney if you are charged with DUI. The attorneys at Clemons, Richter & Reiss will meet with you and explain the applicable law, as well as the options available to you.
This article is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.