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Number 213                                                                                                 February 2000

U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590




The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have collaborated again, turning their attention to youth DUI and other alcohol offenses. A new publication called Sentencing and Dispositions of Youth DUI and Other Alcohol Offenses: A Guide for Judges and Prosecutors is available for distribution. An interdisciplinary expert panel of judges, prosecutors, researchers, alcohol and other drug abuse counselors, probation officers and law enforcement officers worked together to develop this guide.

The Guide is intended to help judges and prosecutors better understand the total range of available options for action when dealing with juvenile and youth alcohol-related offenses. It shows the potential payoffs of working cooperatively with related administrative agencies, such as motor vehicle departments, and community organizations. It suggests that there is a role for judges and prosecutors outside the courtroom to prevent underage drinking and alcohol-related driving offenses from occurring in the first place.

The Facts chapter presents information on the prevalence of underage drinking and impaired driving. It describes factors that are associated with these offenses and their consequences.

The Laws chapter summarizes the laws that apply to underage drinking and impaired driving. These include laws that apply to both adult and underage DUI offenders, laws that apply only to underage drivers, and laws designed to prevent underage drinking. The report cites research that documents the effectiveness of these laws in reducing alcohol-related crashes.

The Justice System chapter points out that while surveys of youth suggest that underage alcohol offenses are common, only a small percentage are formally prosecuted and result in sanctions. Many underage alcohol offenses go undetected by police, and among those who police do apprehend, many are not arrested. Furthermore, many underage offenders who are arrested are not formally prosecuted. This chapter discusses the challenges law enforcement agencies face in apprehending youthful alcohol offenders, and in pre-sanction processing of those who do enter the court system.

Dispositions and Sentences describes sanctions for youthful offenders designed to protect the public, hold the offender accountable to the victim and their community, and provide education or treatment services for the offender. Research into the effectiveness of sanctions is cited whenever such research is available.

The Monitoring and Enforcement chapter indicates that compliance with court ordered sanctions may be monitored by law enforcement agencies, probation departments, education and treatment program staff, and the parents of juveniles. This chapter examines the importance of monitoring, problems the court faces in providing for monitoring, and actions judges and prosecutors can take to improve monitoring systems, including involving parents.

The judge's ability to tailor dispositions for youthful alcohol-related offenses to the individual depends on the court having access to complete and current information about both the offense and the offender. This chapter addresses the importance of record keeping and the accessibility of information and describes approaches designed to improve information sharing.

The final chapter gives an overview of the Nation's comprehensive effort to reduce underage drinking and DUI and the role of the justice system within this broad context. The justice system interacts with community organizations working to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors. The justice system also interacts with the programs managed by the State driver licensing agencies, which are directed at protecting the public by preventing driving by high-risk operators. The three principal goals of sanctioning -- public protection, accountability to the victim or community, and treatment or education for offenders -- mesh with elements that are outside the court. It is important for judges and prosecutors to have a good understanding of the overall system to ensure that sanctioning decisions reinforce, rather than impede, the effectiveness of community efforts to reduce alcohol problems and State efforts to protect motorists from high-risk drivers. Linkages between the community and the court can be

strengthened by the involvement of judges and prosecutors in all levels of community efforts. Finally, this chapter presents research findings on the effectiveness of community efforts to reduce underage drinking and DUI.

The Guide includes recommendations for policy and research, along with a 150 item bibliography citing the research on which the report is based. The report will be distributed widely to judges, prosecutors, and other parties interested in sentencing and dispositions of youth DUI and other alcohol offenses.

For a copy of Sentencing and Dispositions of Youth DUI and Other Alcohol Offenses: A Guide for Judges and Prosecutors (65 pages), write to the Media and Marketing Division, NHTSA,
NTS-21, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590, or send a fax to (202) 493-2062. It will be on NHTSA's web page in a few weeks:

U.S. Department
of Transportation
National Highway
Traffic Safety

400 Seventh Street, S.W. NTS-31
Washington, DC 20590

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Traffic Safety Programs
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