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Iii. Specific sanctions and remedies

Additional/Innovative Sentencing Approaches

The following sanctions are being used in some communities, although their effectiveness in reducing DWI recidivism has not been studied as thoroughly as the sanctions discussed above:

  • Home confinement with electronic monitoring. Electronic monitoring (EM) is a computerized method of verifying that the offender remains at home except when excused to attend work or treatment (Harding, 1989a). In a 7-year study, recidivism was less than 3 percent among a group of DWI offenders who were electronically monitored for approximately 2 to 3 months while on probation (Lilly et al., 1993). However, recidivism increased at the completion of the monitoring period. This sanction is used as an alternative to jail and is less costly both because of the high cost of jail confinement and because the offender usually pays for the program (often on a sliding scale). These offenders are, in effect, confined to their homes but provisions may be made to allow them to go to work or school. Jones et al. (1996) found that a Los Angeles program of electronic monitoring resulted in repeat offenders being confined longer than those sentenced to jail (averaging 83 days versus 30 days) and that EM participation reduced recidivism by one-third. The program also proved to be self-sufficient.
  • Financial sanctions. These sanctions may include fines, court costs, costs for private probation, costs for interlocks, and the like, and, in some jurisdictions, the cost of public services responding to an offender-involved crash. Fines may be fixed in amount or based on a portion of the offender’s daily income (Winterfield and Hillsman, 1991; McDonald, Greene, and Worzella, 1992). Despite the fact that they are a common element in most sanctioning combinations, fines have not been well evaluated for their impact on recidivism (Nichols and Ross, 1989). Fines may be suspended in some jurisdictions, and that amount is sometimes applied to court-ordered counseling, assuming that the jurisdiction has a court-approved program administered by the court or the probation department. Fines are often viewed as a part of societal retribution. However, local jurisdictions and/or State legislatures using fines need to consider carefully and wisely how these funds will be used. Excessive fines may possibly take away some offenders’ ability to pay for treatment.
  • Community service programs. These programs direct the offender to pay restitution to the community through activities such as working at local hospitals or caring for the elderly. The few existing studies of these widely applied sanctions have failed to find any significant effects of these programs when used alone on DWI recidivism or crashes (Popkin and Wells-Parker, 1994; Stenzel, Manak, and Murphy, 1987). If used, it is also important to tailor the community service programs to the offender-especially offenders with health problems.
  • Publishing offenders’ names in the newspaper. This sanction is rarely used, but is becoming more common according to some expert officials. However, the effect of social stigma on DWI recidivism has not been studied (Harding, 1989b; Popkin and Wells-Parker, 1994). Requiring an offender to place an ad in the newspaper has been upheld in a Florida court decision (Lindsay v. State, 1992).
  • Requiring the use of bumper stickers saying that the driver was “Convicted of DUI” is another method of publicly exposing the offender (Goldschmidtt v. State, 1986). The effectiveness of this approach has not been evaluated.
  • Sentencing offenders to place flowers for one year on the grave of the person killed has also been used by some judges, though this sanction also has not been evaluated.
  • Attendance at victim impact panels (VIPs). Shinar and Compton (1995) studied the effect of participating in Victim Impact Panels (VIPs) on DWI recidivism in Oregon and California. This initial study found that VIPs did not consistently reduce recidivism rates compared to controls. The findings of a subsequent study suggested that referral to VIPs was not a strong predictor of reduced recidivism (deBaca, Lapham, Paine, and Skipper, 2000). Two other studies, however, found lower recidivism rates in offenders who served on the panels (Sprang, 1997; Fors and Rojek, 1999) and a significant decrease in attendees’ reported intention to continue drinking and driving (Sprang, 1997).
  • Victim restitution programs. These programs, which direct the offender to pay financial and service benefits to the victim or the victim’s family, are rarely invoked and apparently have not been studied (Harding, 1989b; Parent, Auerbach, and Carlson, 1992; Popkin and Wells-Parker, 1994). Victim restitution is often included in dispositions on a case-specific basis. For some offenders, it has been reported that a part of their fines and court costs go directly into State victim community funds.
  • Court-ordered visits to and/or volunteer service at emergency departments and chronic physical rehabilitation facilities. These sanctions have been proposed for both their specific deterrent effects and as a form of community service by the offender (Transportation Research Board, 1995). The Youthful Drunk Driving Program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, requires first-time DWI offenders age 16 to 25 to visit emergency departments and rehabilitative centers, to attend a victim impact panel and an alcohol counseling session, and then to write an essay about the experience. After two years, the reported recidivism was only 1.2 percent (NHTSA, 1999). The American Trauma Society is currently preparing a publication that describes how to implement similar “youth visitation” programs in other parts of the country.
  • Pretrial Intervention (PTI). This type of program generally involves requiring offenders to complete or participate in a treatment program prior to final case disposition. Successful program participants usually receive less severe sanctions than they otherwise would. Jones et al. (1996) evaluated such an Intensive Supervision Probation (ISP) program for repeat offenders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and found that participants had a recidivism rate approximately one-half of that of a comparison group.
  • More Severe Sanctions for High-BAC Drivers. Simpson et al. (1996) recommends that more severe sanctions be administered to drivers convicted of DWI with high BACs (usually defined as ≥.15), similar to the practice used in many European countries. NHTSA is currently evaluating some of these programs (McCartt et al., 2002b). The high-BAC law in Minnesota appears to be associated with lower rates of recidivism for first-time offenders with BACs of .20 or greater (McCartt and Northrup, 2004).