Key Researchers

  • Pre-conviction immediate administrative driver’s license suspension policies have clearly shown significant effects on alcohol-related fatal crash involvement among drivers at all BAC levels, saving at least 800 lives per year in the United States. Policies that only implement license suspensions post-conviction have no discernable effects (Chaloupka et al., 1993; Legge and Park, 1994; Ruhm, 1996; Voas et al., 2000; Wagenaar and Maldonado-Molina, 2007; Whetten-Goldstein et al., 2000; Young and Likens, 2000).

    These laws require suspension of a driver’s license immediately after a driver fails a breath test (or at most within a day or two). Historic studies of the effects of administrative license suspension penalties frequently find reductions in alcohol-related traffic crashes following implementation. A recent study (Wagenaar and Maldonado-Molina, 2007) examined the effects of implementation of license suspension penalties in every U.S. state between 1976 and 2002. The authors stratified analyses by whether the penalty was applied immediately after the alcohol-impaired driver was detected (i.e., pre-conviction) or later through conviction by the courts (i.e., post-conviction), providing a direct assessment of the principle of celerity - the time elapsed between the offending behavior and the consequence. Results indicated that pre-conviction license suspension penalties significantly reduced alcohol-related traffic crashes by 5%, with similar effects observed among drivers across all levels of intoxication. No effects were observed for post-conviction license suspension penalties.



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