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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 137128 Find in a Library
Title: Are DWI Sanctions Effective?
Journal: Alcohol, Drugs and Driving  Volume:8  Issue:1  Dated:(January-March 1992)  Pages:61-69
Author(s): H L Ross
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 9
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The question of whether DWI (driving while intoxicated) sanctions work is addressed in terms of four functions of criminal punishment: retribution, reform, incapacitation, and general deterrence.
Abstract: Retribution is the most fundamental function of criminal punishment because it legitimizes the other functions. The retributive function, justified by moral deserts, requires no further justification of a utilitarian nature. The question of whether DWI sanctions work as retribution comes down to whether they are proportionate to the culpability of drunk drivers. It may not be possible to answer the question of the retributive effectiveness of current DWI sanctions, however, because there does not seem to be general agreement regarding the culpability or blameworthiness of the individual act of drunk driving. Gestures toward rehabilitative goals are common in drunk driving sanctions. Offenders defined as first-timers are typically assigned to educational programs, and multiple offenders are usually required to undergo some kind of treatment. Because educational and therapeutic programs are not generally intensive, the scale of most reform-oriented programs is not likely to encourage expectations of major success. From the standpoint of economic and effective incapacitation of offenders, administrative license suspension or revocation is probably the best legal sanction available. DWI sanctions have also been shown to produce deterrence, but the key to their effectiveness is the perception of swift and certain punishment. It is concluded that criminal sanctions can be effective in controlling drunk driving, but that a policy based only on sanctions does not deal with the fundamental causes of drunk driving. 48 references
Main Term(s): Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Index Term(s): Administrative adjudication; Alcoholism treatment programs; Deterrence effectiveness; Drunk offenders
Note: Paper presented at an International Symposium on Problems with DWI Arrests, Convictions, and Sentencing, 1991, Santa Monica, California
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