A Review of New York State's STOP-DWI Program

IV. FINDINGS

Program Impact

This section will describes county-level impaired-driving data, using the four groups, in order to portray the impact of the STOP-DWI Program. The outcomes studied emphasize alcohol-related motor vehicle crash and DWI/DWAI data.

First, note the fluctuations in the Low Population (Rural) group, particularly in comparison to the other three groups, as presented in Figures 16 and 17.

Figure 16. Alcohol-related Crash Fatalities, by Group, 1992-2002.

Figure 16  - click for long description

Note(s): Group size varies from 5 to 35 programs (refer to Table 9, Figure 11). County Groups: 1=High Population (Above 500,000), 2=Moderate High Population (250,000-500,000), 3=Moderate Low Population (100,000-250,000), and 4=Low Population (Below 100,000).
Data Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

In general, Figure 16 shows a decline in alcohol-related fatalities sustained for a decade, among Groups 1 and 3. Group 2 has held steady over the years and Group 4 has fluctuated with slight decreases and increases over the 10-year period. Overall, both groups with moderate population sizes, Groups 2 and 3, have relatively fewer fatalities than the other two groups.

In examining Figure 17, the per capita rates of alcohol-related deaths vary from 2 per 100,000 (High Population [Urban] group) to 3 per 100,000 (Moderate Population groups) to 8 per 100,000 (Low Population [Rural] group).

Figure 17. Alcohol-Related Crash Fatalities (2002) versus Nonalcohol-Related Crash Fatalities (2000), by Group.

Figure 17  - click for long description

Note(s): County Groups: 1=High Population (Above 500,000), 2=Moderate High Population (250,000-500,000), 3=Moderate Low Population (100,000-250,000), and 4=Low Population (Below 100,000).
Data Source(s): ITSMR, 2004; NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, Data Reports for 2001 by County.

Figure 18. Proportion of Alcohol-Related Crash Fatalities (2002) to Nonalcohol-Related Crash Fatalities (2000), by Group.

Figure 18  - click for long description

Note(s): Group size varies from 5 to 35 programs (refer to Table 9, Figure 11). County Groups: 1=High Population (Above 500,000), 2=Moderate High Population (250,000-500,000), 3=Moderate Low Population (100,000-250,000), and 4=Low Population (Below 100,000).
Data Source(s): ITSMR, 2004; NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, Data Reports for 2001 by County.

Alcohol-related fatalities represent approximately 40 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Figures 17 and 18 suggest that, despite substantial progress in their reduction in New York, the highest alcohol-related fatality rates occur in the Low Population (Rural) group.

Next, criminal justice data is presented, and for these figures, New York City data is excluded (data not available).

Figure 19. Impaired-Driving Convictions (Individuals) by Level of Conviction (DWAI/DWI) in New York State, by Group, 2002.

Figure 19  - click for long description

Note: While New York State has a “No-Plea-Out-Of-Alcohol” Law, first-time DWI offenders may have charges reduced to DWAI or other alcohol offense.
Data Source(s): ITSMR, 2004; NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Figure 19 indicates that tickets issued in the Low Population (Rural) group outnumber those in the Moderate Population groups. The NHTSA Eastern Region Office reports that many first-offender arrests result in the DWAI ticket or reduction of charges.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and ITSMR (2004) report that 60,737 tickets for impaired driving (all alcohol-related charges) were issued in 2002 to over 45,000 individuals (some jurisdictions give out two tickets – e.g., one for Judicial Per Se and one for DWI), representing approximately 2.6 percent of all tickets issued (excluding New York City and the five western townships of Suffolk County on Long Island). The conviction data presented next in Figure 20 highlights convictions on alcohol-related driving charges (original, reduced, and other alcohol-related). While a driver may receive more than one alcohol-related driving charge during a vehicle stop, this constitutes one person arrested. For each group, despite variation in population and program resources, it appears that a substantial proportion of arrests (91 %) result in conviction. The remaining 9 percent account for those individuals convicted on a non-alcohol charge, a charge associated with a different event, dismissals and acquittals.

Figure 20. Impaired-Driving Person Arrests versus Convictions, by Group, 2002.

Figure 20  - click for long description

Note(s): County Groups: 1=High Population (Above 500,000), 2=Moderate High Population (250,000-500,000), 3=Moderate Low Population (100,000-250,000), and 4=Low Population (Below 100,000).
Data Sources: ITSMR, 2004; NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Figure 20 suggests that conviction is an expected outcome for an impaired driver once arrested, largely attributed to the STOP-DWI program emphasis on general and specific deterrence.

Finally, an estimate of the numbers of DWI/DWAI offenders currently in the criminal justices system on probation is described in Figure 21, to include the New York City program. In 2002, about 32,000 individuals were on probation for DWI/DWAI, close to 6,000 in the New York City program alone. This presents a snapshot of which groups have the largest share of offenders. The Moderate Population (Group 3) and Low Population (Rural - Group 4) groups have 2 offenders per 1,000-person population in the probation system versus 1 per 1,000 in the Moderate Population (Group 2) group. The inclusion of New York City data skews the estimate for the High Population (Urban – Group 1) group. Note: Probation is a county government responsibility. As a consequence, the practices vary greatly, such a length of probation. Some counties release individuals from probation early in order to keep caseloads manageable.

Figure 21. Number of People in Probation System, by Group, 2002.

Figure 21  - click for long description

Note(s): County Groups: 1=High Population (Above 500,000), 2=Moderate High Population (250,000-500,000), 3=Moderate Low Population (100,000-250,000), and 4=Low Population (Below 100,000).
Data Source(s): ITSMR (2004); NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.

The data in this section describes variations in impact among the four groups, setting the stage for discussion of key issues facing the New York STOP-DWI program. The traffic safety and DWI/DWAI data presented here suggests that the STOP-DWI program has had a sustained impact in assisting the State at further reducing alcohol-related motor vehicle crash fatalities in New York.