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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 119630 Find in a Library
Title: Discretionary Leniency in Police Enforcement of Laws against Drinking and Driving: Two examples from the State of Maine, USA
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:17  Issue:3  Dated:(1989)  Pages:179-186
Author(s): T Heeren; R Hingson; A R Meyers
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 8
Type: Program/Project Evaluation
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines discretionary leniency in police enforcement of two laws against drinking and driving in the State of Maine: a criminal law against operating under the influence of alcohol (OUI; BAC is greater than or equal to .10) and a law making it an administrative offense for teenagers to drive with BACs greater than or equal to .02.
Abstract: A telephone survey of 200 randomly selected police officers showed that in the year before the survey twenty-one percent reported decisions not to apprehend and forty-two percent not to arrest drivers suspected of OUI. Nine percent of officers reported decisions not to apprehend, thirty-five percent not to request BAC tests, and thirty-five percent not to site teenaged drivers suspected of having BACs greater than or equal to .02. Those who reported discretionary OUI decisions did so in a mean of nineteen percent of possible apprehensions and twenty-four percent of possible arrests. Those who reported .02 discretion did so in twenty-six percent of apprehensions, fifty-one percent of possible breath tests, and fifty-two percent of possible citations. Stepwise logistic regression analysis showed three predictors of decisions not to apprehend OUI suspects: beliefs that officers may have higher police priorities, that OUI jail sentences should be longer, and that OUI cases are difficult to prosecute. There were no predictors of decisions not to arrest. Officers who favored the .02 law were less likely to exercise discretionary leniency in .02 apprehensions, as were those who believed that OUI cases take too long to come to trial and those with longer police careers. Officers who felt that penalties were too severe were more likely to report discretionary decisions not to request breath tests, as were those with shorter service careers. Officers with shorter service careers reported more discretionary decisions not to cite, as did those who reported that penalties for teenaged OUI offenders are too severe. 20 references, 5 tables. (Author abstract)
Main Term(s): Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Index Term(s): Maine; Police standards; Traffic law enforcement
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