General deterrence effects of U.S. statutory DUI fine and jail penalties: Long-term follow-up in 32 states

Alexander C. Wagenaar, Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina, Darin J. Erickson, Linan Ma, Amy L. Tobler, Kelli A. Komro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Introduction: We examined effects of state statutory changes in DUI fine or jail penalties for firsttime offenders from 1976 to 2002. Methods: A quasi-experimental time-series design was used (n = 324 monthly observations). Four outcome measures of drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes are: single-vehicle nighttime, low BAC (0.01-0.07 g/dl), medium BAC (0.08-0.14 g/dl), high BAC (≥0.15 g/dl). All analyses of BAC outcomes included multiple imputation procedures for cases with missing data. Comparison series of non-alcohol-related crashes were included to efficiently control for effects of other factors. Statistical models include state-specific Box-Jenkins ARIMA models, and pooled general linear mixed models. Results: Twenty-six states implemented mandatory minimum fine policies and 18 states implemented mandatory minimum jail penalties. Estimated effects varied widely from state to state. Using variance weighted meta-analysis methods to aggregate results across states, mandatory fine policies are associated with an average reduction in fatal crash involvement by drivers with BAC ≥ 0.08 g/dl of 8% (averaging 13 per state per year). Mandatory minimum jail policies are associated with a decline in single-vehicle nighttime fatal crash involvement of 6% (averaging 5 per state per year), and a decline in low-BAC cases of 9% (averaging 3 per state per year). No significant effects were observed for the other outcome measures. Conclusions: The overall pattern of results suggests a possible effect of mandatory fine policies in some states, but little effect of mandatory jail policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)982-994
Number of pages13
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation under grant 051809 to Alexander C. Wagenaar, Principal Investigator. Findings and conclusions are solely the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, the University of Florida, or the University of Minnesota. The authors appreciate the assistance of Cindy Silianoff, JD with collecting and coding the legal statutes.


  • ARIMA time series
  • Alcohol-impaired crash
  • Automobile
  • Deterrence
  • Fine
  • Jail
  • Policy evaluation


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