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Some DUIs need more than jail time

Car accidents caused by drunk drivers remain a threat to every driver in Pennsylvania, and no matter where or when they driver. While some times, like weekend nights and major holidays, present an increased risk, there are probably a surprisingly large number of intoxicated drivers on the roads of the state no matter when you are reading this post.

This issue has received increasing scrutiny since the 1970s, when deadly drunk driving accidents were taken almost for granted and drivers still left bars and parties with one for the road. In some counties of the state, special DUI courts have been established to handle the demand and ensure efficient prosecution removes repeat offenders from the highways  before they have chance to reoffend.

The need for better enforcement is demonstrated by the numbers. In 2013, there was more than one death per day involving alcohol in Pennsylvania, and there were about 30 alcohol- related crashes every day. Delaware County prosecutes at least one DUI homicide every year. Montgomery County had more than 2,300 DUI cases, which is more than one third of their entire criminal caseload.

If gangs killed as many people as DUI crashes do, the National Guard would be called out. But merely throwing repeat offender behind bars is not enough. For those who have been arrested multiple times, prosecutors and courts must develop effective treatment programs that deal with their substance abuse and not merely “punish” them for a few years, only to allow them to begin drinking and driving as soon as they exit the jail.

With thousands of prosecutions every year, the state cannot afford to merely warehouse them for their prison sentence. If they have a substance abuse problem, punitive sentences in prison are at best a temporary solution. Part of their sentence must be treatment that changes the root cause of their substance abuse.

It matters to every driver, because you never know who you will meet on the road.

Eveningsun.com, “Another view: DUI affects every county in Pennsylvania,” April 7, 2015

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