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"Smart people (like smart lawyers) can come up with very good explanations for mistaken points of view."

- Richard P. Feynman, Physicist

"There is a danger in clarity, the danger of over looking the subtleties of truth."

-Alfred North Whitehead

June 20, 2010

OWI Recidivism Reduction and Drunk Driving Reduction

Research often shows relatively small reductions in recidivism rates for OWI offenders who have received alcohol treatment. However, one must remained focused on the ultimate concern, which is not reducing recidivism, but reducing dangerous driving due to driving while intoxicated. Although I could not find any definitive study on the number of times individuals that are arrested for OWI have driven drunk and not been arrested, a survey has estimated that for every operating while intoxicated arrest, there are about 55 operating while intoxicated events. Zador, Paul, Sheila Krawchuk and B. Moore. (1997) “Drinking and Driving Trips, Stops by Police, and Arrests: Analysis of the 1995 National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behavior,” Rockvill, MD: Weststat, Inc.

Therefore, if one starts with 100 offenders and assumes a three year recidivism rate of 15%, and that treatment reduces the recidivism rate by 10%, the number of repeat offenders falls from 15 to 13.5 during a three year period. Assuming that for every arrest, there are 55 drunk driving events, the number of drunk driving events from these 100 offenders fall from 825 to 743. The reduction in numbers of defendants re-offending are multiplied to get a much larger reduction in the number of dangerous driving events (operating while intoxicated). A small statistically significant effect may result in a larger practical effect.

The views expressed in this blog are solely the views of the author(s) and do not represent the views of any other public official or organization.

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