DUI Hotel for Eligible Drunk Driving Offenders

DUI HotelAn Allegheny County program allows drunk drivers to serve mandatory jail time in a hotel if they meet certain requirements. Known to some as “DUI Hotel“, the DUI Alternative Jail Program is essentially a 3-day, 3-night program held at two participating hotels, and costs about $500. It is for people who have a prior conviction and then get arrested for DUI, and who are ineligible for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.In the program, participants are required to attend evaluations and alcohol-education programs and treatment sessions. Tom McCaffrey is the director of adult probation in Allegheny County and supports the program. He said, “The program goes Thursday through Sunday. The entire program is designed that they are busy the whole time. They complete alcohol evaluations, they do their mandatory DUI school mandated by PennDOT and they do their treatment that they have to do. I think it’s going to be a good thing for the court, I think it will be a good thing for the jail, and it will be a good thing for the taxpayers.”

DUI Hotel can replace the system of using electronic monitoring bracelets, which county officials report costs $2 million a year in taxpayer dollars. However, not everyone is behind the program. George Saurman is a former seven-term state representative from Montgomery County who said, “The whole idea of sentencing people to jail is for safety — for their own safety and for other people’s safety. For anyone to have the idea that now that they’ve been caught, they can serve out their time in a hotel, rather than having the punishment imposed, is absolutely insane. I can’t see any motivation or justification for modifying the penalty. It’s inexcusable, as far as I’m concerned.”

The program was adopted in 2010, and Allegheny was the first county in Pennsylvania to use it. Now Westmoreland County officials are considering it too.

Anna Duerr, a spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), said that the program would not act as a deterrent to driving while intoxicated. “There is no science to show that sentencing convicted drunk drivers to serve time in a hotel helps to stop repeat offenses,” she said.