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Addict Behav. 2013 Oct;38(10):2506-12. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.04.004. Epub 2013 Apr 23.

Enforcement following 0.08% BAC law change: sex-specific consequences of changing arrest practices?

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  • 1Department of Sociology,Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4020, United States. schwartj@wsu.edu

Abstract

This research evaluated effects of stricter 0.08% BAC drunken driving law on changes in sex-specific DUI arrest rates, controlling for increased law enforcement resources and shifts in DUI-related behaviors. Another main purpose, the study assessed female/male differences in arrest increases due to broader enforcement standards and efforts. Panel data was assembled for 24 states over 1990-2007 on DUI arrests, alcohol policy, law enforcement resources, drinking and drunken driving prevalence. Two-way fixed-effects seemingly unrelated regression models predicted female versus male changes in DUI arrests following implementation of lower legal limits of intoxication, net controls. Findings suggest, first, that a broader legal definition of drunken driving intending to officially sanction less serious offenders (0.08% vs. 0.10% BAC) was associated with increased DUI arrests for both sexes. Second, growth in specialized DUI-enforcement units also was related to increased arrests. Whereas male and female arrest trends were equally affected by the direct net-widening effects of 0.08% BAC alcohol-policy, specialized DUI-enforcement efforts to dig deeper into the offender-pool had stronger arrest-producing effects on females, particularly prior to law change. Specifying how changes in law and enforcement resources affect arrest outcomes is an important pre-cursor to alcohol-policy analyses of effectiveness. A potential unintended consequence, effects of law and enforcement may differ across population segments.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol-related public policy; Arrests; Driving under the influence; Sex differences; Trends in drinking behavior

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