Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1550733
 
 

Footnotes (256)



 


 



Twelve Unnecessary Men: The Case for Eliminating Jury Trials in Drunk Driving Cases


Adam M. Gershowitz


William & Mary Law School

February 10, 2010

U of Houston Law Center No. 2010-A-5

Abstract:     
Over the last few decades, states have imposed tougher punishments on drunk drivers. This article argues that increasing punishments is counter-productive. If legislatures are seeking to hold guilty offenders accountable and deter drunk driving generally, they should keep punishments low and instead abolish the right to jury trials. Under the petty offense doctrine, the Supreme Court has authorized states to abolish jury trials when defendants face a maximum sentence of six months' incarceration. Social science evidence has long demonstrated that judges are more likely to convict than juries, particularly in drunk driving cases. And researchers have also found that the certainty of punishment, not the severity of punishment, is the key factor in maximizing deterrence. Thus, by keeping maximum sentences for most drunk driving offenders at six months or less, states can abolish jury trials, thereby raising conviction rates and improving general deterrence. Additionally, bench trials will be far more efficient because the greater certainty of conviction will give defendants an incentive to plead guilty rather than taking their cases to trial. When trials do occur they will be much faster because there will be no need to select juries, and lawyers will have to present far less background information to already knowledgeable judges. At present, only a handful of states have eliminated jury trials for drunk drivers. This article outlines the specific steps that states should take to abolish jury trials and thereby increase convictions, maximize general deterrence, and more efficiently handle one of the most common crimes in the United States.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: drunk driving, DWI, petty offense, certainty, severity, deterrence, bench trial, jury trial, efficiency

working papers series


Download This Paper

Date posted: February 11, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Gershowitz, Adam M., Twelve Unnecessary Men: The Case for Eliminating Jury Trials in Drunk Driving Cases (February 10, 2010). U of Houston Law Center No. 2010-A-5. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1550733 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1550733

Contact Information

Adam M. Gershowitz (Contact Author)
William & Mary Law School ( email )
South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,040
Downloads: 114
Download Rank: 144,002
Footnotes:  256

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo7 in 0.328 seconds