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Vi. Conclusion

Alcohol-impaired driving continues to threaten the health and safety of millions of people daily. Progress in reducing impaired driving has stagnated during the past few years. There is no single solution to the problem of drinking and driving. Combinations of sanctions and treatments that work together as part of a comprehensive DWI sentencing system must be developed. Neither sanctions nor treatment alone is likely to affect all DWI offenders, but each approach is an important component of an integrated strategy.

Responding effectively is especially difficult for the courts of law because they must deal with a diverse population of offenders, including hard-core recidivists who are not easily identified initially and who are resistant to most sanctions. For a sentencing strategy to be effective, both in terms of treatment success and implementation, there must be consistent enforcement of sentence compliance and prompt response by the courts to noncompliance. Courts must expand their limited resources by seeking support from the criminal justice, public safety, and alcoholism prevention and treatment communities. With the wise use of sentencing options described in this guide and the dedicated support of these other communities, significant progress can be made in further reducing the injuries and fatalities caused by alcohol-impaired drivers.

DWI Sentencing Checklist

The table below summarizes the evidence concerning various DWI sentencing options that are discussed in detail in the text of this sentencing guide:

OFFENDER

SANCTION

EFFECTIVENESS

COMMENT

FIRST CONVICTION

LICENSING

Suspension/revocation
(≥90 days; 30 days hard)

Reduces alcohol-related fatalities 6-19% (administrative license revocation)

One study showed it
does not cause employment problems.

VEHICLE ACTIONS (FOR VERY HIGH BACs)

Impoundment/immobilization

Reduces recidivism by
40%-70%.

Immobilization may be more cost-effective.

Alcohol ignition interlocks

Effective while on vehicle.

Breath test failures in first few weeks are best predictor of recidivism.

License plate impoundment

Shown to be effective in MN.

More cost-efficient than impoundment.

ASSESSMENT AND REHABILITATION

Treatment as appropriate to problem

Reduces recidivism by 7%-9%.

Should be paid by the offender when possible.

SENTENCING OPTIONS

Electronic monitoring Home confinement

Effective alternative to jail. Reduces recidivism by 33%.

Can be self-sufficient if paid by the offender.

Fines

No studies of effectiveness found.

Sometimes used to pay for programs.

MULTIPLE CONVICTIONS

(Repeat Offender)

LICENSING

Suspension/ revocation (≥ 1 year) 30-90 days hard Remaining days on restricted license/ work permit

No studies found on the effects of license suspension on repeat offenders. General deterrent effect of 6-19%.

Studies indicate 50-70% of offenders continue to drive to some extent.

VEHICLE ACTIONS

Impoundment/immobilization

Reduces recidivism by 40%-70%.

Immobilization may be more cost-effective.

Alcohol ignition interlocks

Reduces recidivism while on vehicle.

Breath test failures in first few weeks are best predictor of recidivism.

License plate impoundment

Shown to reduce recidivism in MN.

More cost-efficient than impoundment.

ASSESSMENT AND REHABILITATION

Mandatory assessment of drinking problem and mandatory treatment.

Reduces recidivism by 7%-9%.

Should be paid by the offender when possible.

SENTENCING OPTIONS

Electronic monitoring and home confinement.

Reduces recidivism by 33%.

Can be self-sufficient if paid by the offender.

Intensive supervision probation.

Reduces recidivism by 50%.

Should be at least partially funded by the offender.

Special DWI facilities.

Reduces recidivism by 75%.

 

Day reporting center.

Integrates offender back into society.

More cost-effective than jail.

Fines, reinstatement fees.

No studies on effectiveness found.

Helps pay for costs of other sanctions.

DWI court (e.g., frequent contact with judge; intensive supervision probation; treatment; random alcohol/drug testing; lifestyle changes; positive reinforcement).

Some courts reporting reductions in recidivism by 50% or greater.

Multiple funding sources available. NHTSA and the Bureau of Justice Assistance have a joint evaluation underway.

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