Executive Summary

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This compendium of promising sentencing practices is based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National Driving While Intoxicated (or Impaired) (DWI) Sentencing Summit, which was held at The National Judicial College (NJC) on March 15-16, 2004, in Reno, Nevada. Summit attendees included officials from NHTSA as well as judges, researchers, treatment professionals, and probation and parole officials from throughout the United States, who were selected to participate in the summit based on their expertise in dealing with DWI offenders.

The purpose of the summit was to identify innovative sentencing practices that have been used successfully by courts in dealing with DWI offenders who have not been prevented from re-offending by traditional sentencing methods.

This compendium identifies 10 promising sentencing innovations the summit participants identified as having promise for reducing recidivism by DWI offenders, whether repeat or first time offenders. These sentencing practices are listed in the order in which they may apply to an offender:

  • DWI courts.
  • Staggered sentencing.
  • Sentencing circles.
  • Vehicle and license plate sanctions.
  • Ignition interlock devices.
  • Electronic Monitoring and SCRAM.
  • Victim impact panels.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Drug therapy.
  • Reentry courts and programs.

Summit participants and other recognized judicial leaders in the field have had favorable results using these sentencing innovations with repeat and first-time DWI offenders. Some of the innovations have not been subjected to empirical studies, so their effectiveness is not yet known. Each chapter describes in detail a sentencing innovation and provides information about studies that evaluate their effectiveness, if available. Each chapter also provides “Guiding Principles,” which describe specific steps for implementing each practice.