On preventing drunk driving recidivism: An examination of rehabilitation and punishment approaches

Faye S. Taxman, Alex Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


A major policy concern regarding the sentencing of drunk drivers is whether rehabilitation or punishment should be the dominant strategy. Essentially, rehabilitation attempts to treat the underlying alcohol problem of drunk drivers and inhibit future drunk driving, while punishment utilizes the threat of punitive legal sanctions and various types of punishments to deter drunk drivers. The relative merits of punishment and rehabilitation approaches have been studied in an isolated fashion with almost no empirical research examining the two simultaneously. Following a review of these approaches, this article examines the relative merits of the two strategies with data from a sample of offenders of driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws sentenced in the state of Maryland. The research also explores the differential effect of punishment and rehabilitation for first time offenders. For all offenders, Cox proportional hazard models indicate that rehabilitation sentences appear to reduce the likelihood of recidivism more than punishment sentences. For first time offenders, use of less formal punishment was the most effective in deterring drunk driving. The theoretical and policy implications of the results are addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-143
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes

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