Banner-Evaluation of Minnesota's High-BAC Law

3. Evaluation of Minnesota's High-BAC Law

Profile and Disposition of DWI Cases 1997-2000

Case Dispositions

Analyses examined whether high-BAC offenders actually received the statutory enhanced dispositions, whether their dispositions were more severe than those received by other offenders, and whether the patterns of dispositions changed over the years 1998-2000. As offenders’ BAC results were unavailable prior to 1998, the severity of dispositions for all first-time offenders and for all repeat offenders in the years 1998-2000 were compared to the severity of dispositions for all first-time offenders and for all repeat offenders in 1997.

Tables 4-8 report the patterns of case dispositions by alcohol test results for first-time and repeat DWI offenders arrested during the period 1997-2000. The “Total” for the years 1998-2000 in the tables excludes the small number of offenders with missing alcohol test information. The case disposition codes on the driver license files indicate whether a given disposition is standard or enhanced. Tables 4-8 provide all possible combinations of dispositions, including “standard” pre-conviction administrative dispositions, “standard” post-conviction court-imposed dispositions, “enhanced” pre-conviction administrative dispositions, and “enhanced” post-conviction court-imposed dispositions. A disposition described as “enhanced” (shown in Italics font in the tables) is the statutory disposition applicable to offenders with high BACs and carries more severe penalties, as described in Table 1, than a disposition described as “standard.”

The records extracted from the driver license files did not indicate whether a given offense represented a first-time or repeat DWI offense. As noted earlier, the criteria for determining whether an offense was a first or repeat offense was whether there was a prior DWI offense (administrative action, court conviction, or both) within the prior 5 years, or two or more DWI offenses within the prior 10 years. For persons with two or more DWI incidents in a given year and no prior sanctioned DWI, the first offense was counted in tables for first-time offenders, and subsequent offenses were counted in tables for repeat offenders.