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First-Time DWI Offenders Are at Risk of Recidivating Regardless of Sanctions Imposed

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 39 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2011 Pages: 137-142
Eileen M. Ahlin; Paul L. Zador; William J. Rauch; Jan M. Howard; G. Doug Duncan
Date Published
April 2011
6 pages
This study examined whether Maryland's administrative and diversion sanctions applied to first-time DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders have been effective in deterring them from future DWI violations.
The study found that drivers with a prior DWI, whether or not they were first-time offenders, were at relatively high risk of recidivism regardless of how they were sanctioned. Those who received administrative and alternative sanctions had a risk of recidivating similar to that of drivers convicted of criminal charges. Administrative sanctions in Maryland are handled by the State Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). On October 1, 2001, administrative per se was reduced to .08 g/dL BAC (blood alcohol content) from .10 g/dl BAC. Drivers who fail the breath test in Maryland have their licenses suspended immediately (45 days for a first offense and 90 days for a second or subsequent offense). Those who refuse the breath test also have their licenses suspended immediately (120 days for a first offense and 1 year for a second or subsequent offense). Drivers who fail or refuse the breath test may request an administrative hearing. Currently, the administrative law judge may dismiss the license suspension if the driver enrolls in the ignition interlock license restriction program for at least 1 year. Maryland's diversion program for DWI drivers allows a driver to plead guilty or nolo contendere, or to be found guilty in a criminal proceeding but have judgment stayed pending completion of a probationary period. Conditions of probation may include participation in treatment, an alcohol education program, self-help groups, and/or the ignition interlock license restriction program. The study's methodology is described. 5 tables, 2 figures, and 48 references