What is the DUI Hotel Program in Pittsburgh, PA?
Many people facing a first-time DUI in Pennsylvania think they’ll be heading to jail as part of their sentence. In fact, many Pennsylvanians do face incarceration times for their DUI offense and take on hefty fines, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, to boot. But not everyone ends up in jail. In Allegheny County, a special program has been created to keep people out of jail, known as the DUI Alternative Jail Program.
Under the DUI Alternative Jail Program, first-time DUI offenders are placed in special hotels—known as “DUI hotels”—where they take part in treatment programs. Given the relative comfort of a hotel compared with a jail cell, and given that the DUI Alternative Jail Program takes only a weekend to complete, Pittsburgh DUI hotels have grown in popularity amongst those facing first-time DUI convictions.
DUI Hotels—A Second Choice for DUI Offenders in PA
In Allegheny County, first-time DUI offenders have a new way of fulfilling their DUI sentences. Now, first-time DUI offenders can serve mandatory jail terms in hotels. By completing a three-day treatment program through the DUI Alternative Jail Program, offenders can take part in evaluations, drug and alcohol education, and treatment sessions in a hotel setting over a single weekend, rather than over the course of weeks from inside a jail.
The DUI hotel is designed to serve as an alternative to jail time, which can cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Besides pointing to the money-saving benefits of the program, proponents of DUI hotels argue that most first-time DUI offenders don’t belong behind bars; rather, they can undergo treatment in an alternate facility.
Who Qualifies for a DUI Hotel in Pittsburgh, PA?
One of the most controversial aspects of the DUI hotel is its cost. Hotel participants who can’t afford the program cost—starting at $500—still end up facing jail time, often in less comfortable facilities. Furthermore, their treatment program is extended over weeks, rather than over a single weekend. Opponents of the DUI hotel program say that by privileging those who can pay, the program doesn’t treat all DUI offenders equally.
Not everyone can take part in a DUI hotel. In order to be eligible for a DUI hotel, offenders must be ineligible for Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program and be facing a first-time DUI, punishable by up to a 72-hour jail sentence. While Allegheny County is the first county in Pennsylvania to offer a DUI hotel as an alternative to jail time, additional counties in Pennsylvania, including Westmoreland County, are considering adopting such programs in the near future.
7 Ways to Qualify for a DUI Hotel
- First-time offense — In order to be eligible for a DUI hotel, you must be facing your first DUI offense. Multiple DUI offenders cannot take part in a DUI hotel.
- Charged within Allegheny County — While other counties may soon offer DUI hotels, only Allegheny County currently offers DUI hotels as an option for first-time DUI offenders. Your case must be handled in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, in order for you to be eligible for a DUI hotel.
- No injuries — If you were involved in a DUI accident, no one must have been seriously injured in the crash. If a person was injured, you may face a harsher sentence which could make you ineligible to participate in a DUI hotel.
- No one under 14 years of age — If you were arrested for a DUI when a person under the age of 14 years of age was in your vehicle, your sentence may make you ineligible for a DUI hotel.
- Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) eligible — To qualify for a DUI hotel, you must be ARD eligible. While the criteria for the ARD program are strict, eligibility generally means that an offender is a first-time offender who is not likely to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol again. To find out if you meet all ARD requirements, consult with a Pittsburgh DUI attorney.
- Open to treatment — In order to take part in a DUI hotel, you must be open to receiving drug or alcohol treatment. This can involve chemical testing, substance use evaluations, counseling, and therapy.
- Pay $500 — The greatest barrier to participation in a DUI hotel is cost. For those who are able to pay the $500 minimum fee, participation may be possible.
How Our Experienced Pittsburgh DUI Lawyers Can Help You
Need help defending yourself against a Pennsylvania DUI charge? If you’re facing DUI charges and want to know whether you’re eligible for participation in the DUI Alternative Jail Program, contact one of the experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today. We can help you determine whether you qualify to stay at a DUI hotel and can evaluate your case to determine whether a DUI hotel might be the best option for you. For a free, initial consultation, call one of our skilled Pittsburgh DUI lawyers at (412) 281-2146 today.