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Assessing Legal Change: Recidivism and Administrative Per Se Laws

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 8 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1992) Pages: 375-394
Date Published
20 pages
The impact of introducing tougher sanctions for drunk driving offenses is evaluated by examining reconviction rates of offenders before and after the implementation of administrative per se laws in North Dakota, Louisiana, and Mississippi and comparing these rates with California which has no administrative per se law.
To measure effects of the laws on recidivism, two random samples of convicted drunk driving offenders were drawn in the three States, one sample prior to and one after the implementation of administrative per se laws. Offenders in these samples were followed to determine if they had been involved in another drunk driving offense during the following 3 years. Comparisons were then made to determine whether pre and post samples differed in recidivism rates. Findings indicated that administrative revocation may or may not be an effective means of reducing observed recidivism among arrested drunk driving offenders. A specific deterrent effect on driving while intoxicated or administrative per se laws seemed to be indicated in North Dakota. The postlaw sample showed lower rates of recidivism than the prelaw sample. The decrease in recidivism continued well beyond the period of license suspension, indicating long-term changes in the driving behavior of offenders. No such effect, however, was found in Mississippi or Louisiana, indicating administrative per se laws may not always appear to reduce drunk driving recidivism. Data from California showed there were no contemporaneous historical changes in patterns of recidivism to which observed differences could be attributed. Overall, the results demonstrated that administrative per se laws reduced reconviction rates in some instances but not in others. In particular, if the laws were accompanied by changes in overall rates of license actions, specific deterrent effects of the laws may be outweighed by increased efficiencies of this judicial process. 23 references, 4 tables, and 5 figures

Date Published: January 1, 1992