Mandatory fine penalties might have some effects in some jurisdictions, but the evidence is quite weak and equivocal (Chaloupka et al., 1993; Sloan et al., 1994; Wagenaar et al., 2007b; Whetten-Goldstein et al., 2000; Young and Likens, 2000).
Five comprehensive, high-quality studies have examined effects of mandatory minimum fine penalties for first-time DUI offenders. Outcomes typically include fatal crashes, other non-traffic injuries and mortality, and other measures, such as self-reported intention to drink and drive. Results are inconsistent. Two studies (Sloan et al., 1994; Young and Likens, 2000) show no discernable effects for mandatory minimum fine penalties. In contrast, Chaloupka et al. (1993) noted significant decreases in nighttime and alcohol-related fatalities in their examination across the U.S. states and over time. In their examination of all U.S. states from 1984 to 1995, Whetten-Goldstein et al. (2000) guardedly concluded that mandatory minimum fine penalties for DUI reduced traffic crash fatalities among youth but not adults. Wagenaar et al. (2007b) recently provided the most comprehensive evaluation of mandatory minimum fine penalties, examining effects across 32 states from 1976 through 2002. Excluding states confounded by multiple simultaneous DUI policy changes, they noted a significant reduction of 8% in fatal crash involvement by drivers with BAC of 0.08 g/dl or higher. No significant effects were observed for single-vehicle nighttime fatal traffic crashes or fatal traffic crashes with drivers under the legally allowable BAC limit of 0.08.