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Pa. House passes bill to use technology to crack down on repeat DUI offenders

Media Type: Print/Online

Repeat driving under the influence offenders could find themselves wearing a device to detect the presence of alcohol to avoid incarceration under legislation that passed the state House of Representatives on Tuesday by a 143-58 vote.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery County, seeks to put into law a practice that several counties in Pennsylvania already have implemented, giving judges the option of requiring an alcohol monitoring device as a condition of bail, probation or parole in cases where an individual has one or more prior DUI offenses.

The legislation would give the courts the discretion to determine which devices can be used — and the individual is required to bear the cost of the device. However, an amendment added to the bill requires the court to consider an individual’s ability to pay the associated costs when ordering a substance monitoring device.

The technology could be a continuous alcohol monitoring device that an individual wears that automatically and frequently tests for the presence of alcohol. Or it could be a mobile breathing device or some other alcohol monitoring technology. Additionally, the court could order random drug testing or any other controlled substance monitoring technology.

“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,” Mr. Stephens said. “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 with DUI.”

Location: Pittsburgh, PA