Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyer

Courts Can Sentence DUI Offenders To A Term of Supervision Less Than The Mandatory Maximum

In Commonwealth v. Popielarcheck, the defendant pled guilty to her second DUI offense in ten years. Prior to sentencing, defendant was required, pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S. § 3814(2), to undergo a full assessment for alcohol and drug addiction, which indicated that she needed additional treatment. Subsequently, defendant was sentenced to two years of county intermediate punishment with the first 120 days on house arrest (with 21 days credit for the time she spent in inpatient treatment).

Following sentencing, the Commonwealth appealed the defendant’s sentence, asserting that the court erred by not sentencing defendant to less than five years of supervision (the statutory maximum), after her drug and alcohol assessment found she was in need of additional treatment. Specifically, the Commonwealth relied on 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804(d) which provides that if a DUI-defendant is sentenced pursuant to chapter 38 of the Motor Vehicle Code and “determined to be in need of additional treatment pursuant to section 3814(2), the judge shall impose a minimum sentence as provided by law and a maximum sentence equal to the statutorily available maximum.”

The appellate court held that the trial court was not required to sentence defendant to supervision for the statutory available maximum of five years. The court reasoned that the sentencing court was not bound by the sentencing requirements of 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804(d) because the defendant was not sentenced pursuant to that Chapter 38 of the Motor Vehicle Code, but sentenced under an alternative sentencing scheme as authorized by Chapter 97 of the Sentencing Code.

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