York County PA is becoming known for leading the nation with an innovative program, called Target 25, to reduce repeat drunk driving. Judge John S. Kennedy observed that many of the DUI defendants in his court were committing additional drunk-driving offenses between their arrest and when they appeared for trial or to enter a plea. In one case, the defendant committed two additional alcohol-related offenses before his preliminary hearing and an additional DUI before the resolution of his first drunk driving charge.
In speaking with other judges and prosecutors, Judge Kennedy discovered this case was far from an isolated one. Prior to 2012, nearly 25% of cases in the York County courts were for DUI, and 25% of those cases involved repeat offenders. In 2011, 125 people accounted for 600 repeat DUI arrests.
To address the issue of repeat offenders, Judge Kennedy spearheaded a task force that included the District Attorney’s office, local law enforcement agencies, judges, and court personnel. The result was the creation of the York County Court of Common Pleas DUI Court in 2010 and the Target 25 Program in 2012. The DUI Court was started with the help of grant funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and NHTSA.
To date, Target 25 has reduced the occurrence of pretrial recidivism for drunk drivers by over 90%. State crash data shows that York County crashes resulting in an injury or fatality due to a drinking driver fell 21% in 2013 compared to the previous three year average.
The program is treatment based and includes 24/7 alcohol monitoring.
Following this national trend in rehabilitative efforts, the 15th Judicial District Court, Lafayette Parish has likewise implemented a Sobriety Court for OWI third and fourth offenders. Sobriety On Purpose is an intensive probation program dedicated to the intervention, treatment, and recovery of non-violent OWI offenders. It is a voluntary deferred sentence program and upon successful completion, the felony conviction will be set aside and dismissed. Ultimately, both the conviction and corresponding arrest can be expunged. The ultimate goal of the program is to assist these non-violent offenders in becoming productive members of the community through sober and responsible living.