Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What Do Drunk Driving And The ADA Have In Common?: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Et Al. v. Yeskey (1998)

According to, New Year's Eve is not the worst night for drunk driving arrests in the United States. That dubious honor belongs to Thanksgiving. Regardless of the date though, driving while under the influence of alcohol is a huge problem--nearly 40% of auto fatalities involve alcohol, and almost 30% of Americans will be in some sort of alcohol-related accident at some point in their lives.

Enter Ronald Yeskey. In 1994, he was arrested for driving drunk. Adding to his problems, he attempted to avoid arrest by running from the police. He was quickly convicted of drunk driving, escape, and resisting arrest. His trial judge sentenced him to 18-36 months in a Pennsylvania prison. The judge recommended the Department of Corrections place him in the Pennsylvania Motivational Boot Camp, which was a program focused on rehabilitation that was less prison-like than most other DOC settings.

The Pennsylvania DOC refused to allow Mr. Yeskey admission to the boot camp program, though, citing his hypertension (high blood pressure) as the reason. They argued that boot camp was physically strenuous, and Mr. Yeskey's physical condition would keep him from being able to safely complete the program.

But, the state of Pennsylvania forgot the Federal Government enacted the Americans With Disabilities Act just four years earlier. Mr. Yeskey sued the State DOC, stating they were in violation of the ADA.

The Pennsylvania DOC argued the ADA did not apply to boot camp programs administered by state prisons. The trial court agreed with the DOC, and Mr. Yeskey lost his suit. He appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, who reversed the trial court's decision, meaning they found Mr. Yeskey's rights were violated under the ADA.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections then appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court, who agreed to hear the case. In 1998, they affirmed the Appeals Court's decision, thus issuing the final word on the matter--The Americans With Disabilities Act clearly applied to state prisons.

The Court's ruling was unanimous, and Justice Scalia (who is no friend to criminal offenders, or any law that he sees as reshaping the Constitution) wrote, "(1) state prisons fall squarely within the definition...of a 'public entity' subject to Title II [of the ADA], (2) the text of the ADA provides no basis for distinguishing the recreational activities, medical services, and educational and vocational programs provided to prison inmates from the 'services, programs, or activities' provided by other public entities that are subject to Title II, (3) Title II's requirements and 'participation' in programs, does not exclude prisoners who are being held against their will, and (4) the failure of the ADA's statement of findings and mention prisons is irrelevant in the context of an unambiguous statutory text."

In essence, the US Supreme Court argued the language in the Americans With Disabilities Act was so clear (even if Justice Scalia's writing wasn't clear at all) that it obviously must apply to prisons, and it obviously must apply to people who have done very bad things. Disabled US citizens retain their right to reasonable accommodations, even when they have broken the law and are serving a prison sentence. Since hypertension is a condition covered under the ADA, the Pennsylvania DOC had no choice but to allow Mr. Yeskey into the boot camp with special monitoring and accommodations for his high blood pressure.

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.


Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance. Birmingham Process Servers

If drunk driver's use their condition like disabilities then, how can they be punish for their irresponsible act. Their should be balance for his charges and his condition so that fair trial is given to him. DUI lawyers know all the details of laws about DUI charges and penalties they will help you and assist you throughout the process.

Joseph @ DUI solicitors Windsor

Sydney Drink Driving & DUI Lawyers | Beazley Singleton Solicitors
14/370 Pitt St Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 8622

I know that in some states you even could be fired for drunk driving and in this case you will need to look for another job position and to fade the fact that you were fired for driving in non-sober mind, you should order the resume from ONly then you will be hired by another company.

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