Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.

DOT HS 809 677
2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Enhanced Sanctions for Higher BACs: Evaluation of Minnesota's High-BAC Law

5. Report Date

August 2003

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

Anne T. McCartt and Veronika Shabanova Northrup

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Preusser Research Group, Inc.

7100 Main Street

Trumbull, CT 06611

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Office of Research and Technology

400 7th Street, S.W.

Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

Amy Berning served as the NHTSA Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative for this study.

16. Abstract

Thirty-one states provide for enhanced sanctions for DWI offenders with “high” BACs. States vary in terms of the high-BAC threshold (which ranges from .15 to .20), and the types, severity, and complexity of sanctions. On January 1, 1998, Minnesota implemented a law imposing enhanced mandatory minimum administrative and criminal sanctions on offenders with BACs > .20. The percentage of first offenders with BACs > .20 declined from 16.9% in 1998 to 15.5% in 2000; the percentage of high-BAC repeat offenders declined from 21.0% to 20.4%. The alcohol test refusal rate for first offenders declined from 12.7% in 1997 to 10.5% in 2000; the refusal rate for repeat offenders was about 22% before and after the law. After the law, high-BAC offenders received more severe case dispositions than lower-BAC offenders. In 1998, 85.6% of high-BAC first offenders received enhanced administrative and/or court sanctions; 65.0 percent received both an enhanced administrative and enhanced court disposition. The percentage of high-BAC first offenders receiving enhanced sanctions declined from 1998 (85.6%) to 1999 (77.6%) and 2000 (78.3%), but was consistently about 97% for repeat high-BAC offenders. Based on survival analysis involving first offenders arrested in 1998, the 1-year recidivism rate (controlling for age and gender) for high-BAC offenders was significantly lower than for offenders who refused the alcohol test and for a “comparison” offender group with BACs .17-.19, but was not significantly different than for offenders with BACs < .17. There were similar, but not significant, effects of alcohol test results on 2-year recidivism rates for 1998 first offenders and 1-year recidivism rates for 1999 first offenders. There were no significant effects of alcohol test results for repeat offenders arrested in either 1998 or 1999.

17. Key Words

alcohol-impaired driving, DUI, alcohol-impaired driving sanctions, DWI, high-BAC, BAC

18. Distribution Statement

This report is available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Springfield, VA 22161 (703) 605-6000. It is also available, free of charge, on the NHTSA web site at

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No. of Pages 22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72)