The Behavioral Impact of Drinking and Driving Laws

Policy Studies Journal, Forthcoming

40 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2008 Last revised: 12 Jun 2008

See all articles by Anthony M. Bertelli

Anthony M. Bertelli

New York University - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; Bocconi University - DONDENA - Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics

Lilliard E. Richardson

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) - School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Abstract

All U.S. states have laws designed to discourage people from drinking and driving, but enforcement varies across the states. Existing studies offer conflicting evidence on the effectiveness of these strategies in deterring drinking-and-driving behavior. Deterrence theories imply that the mere existence of such laws has little impact on criminal behavior, but the perception of enforcement and the probability of being detected have a deterrent effect. To test these hypotheses, we develop a measure of the propensity to drink and drive using item response theory and national survey data. Inferential models test the impact of perceptions of enforcement, actual enforcement levels, and deterrence laws on criminal propensity. Results indicate the existence of statutes impacts only those least likely to drink and drive, while perceptions of the likelihood of arrest and individual agreement with the goals of drinking-and driving laws significantly reduce the propensity for most everyone. Actual enforcement rates display no behavioral effect.

Keywords: crime policy, deterrence theories, criminal propensity, drinking and driving

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Bertelli, Anthony M. and Richardson, Lilliard E., The Behavioral Impact of Drinking and Driving Laws. Policy Studies Journal, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1116004

Anthony M. Bertelli (Contact Author)

New York University - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

Bocconi University - DONDENA - Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Lilliard E. Richardson

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) - School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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