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Conviction or Diversion and the Labeling of First-Time DUI Offenders: An Analysis of Sentencing and Recidivism in Pennsylvania

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 38 Issue: 1 Dated: 2021 Pages: 72-100
Date Published
29 pages

The authors present a research study to determine the impacts of accelerated rehabilitative disposition, compared with a guilty conviction, on sentencing and recidivism rates for first-time driving-under-the-influence offenders.


This study examines the sentencing and recidivism of 34,315 first-time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania. Results indicated that individuals processed through accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) rather than a guilty conviction were more likely to be white, female, and older, and to have less serious prior records. In terms of recidivism, those receiving ARD were significantly less likely than those found guilty to be rearrested within four years. Results also showed the effects of contingent labeling, in that ARD reduced recidivism for females and minorities, possibly because they did not suffer from the cumulative disadvantage of being labeled a criminal. These findings suggest that diversion programs could be used with first-time DUI offenders, even males and whites, without a consequent increase in recidivism. Moreover, the study provides support for diversionary programs for demographic groups (women and minorities) who may be disproportionately affected by a permanent criminal label. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2021