Alternatives to Traditional Incarceration for Serious Traffic Offenders

Report No: 94-R23

Published in 1994

About the report:

This study evaluated the possible use of alternatives to traditional incarceration for serious traffic offenders. Traffic offenders pose less of a risk to the public than the rest of the incarcerated population and, if ways can be found to keep them from driving, could be targeted for alternative sanctions. License suspension and revocation appear to decrease recidivism more than do incarceration and treatment, but many suspended drivers continue to drive. The effectiveness of license actions may be increased by vehicle actions such as impoundment, confiscation, and visibly identifying vehicles owned by drivers with suspended or revoked licenses. Ignition interlock devices bar a driver from driving while under the influence. They are more effective at deterring recidivism than are license actions and could be a good candidate for a pilot program. Since studies of treatment programs have found discouraging results, it is recommended that treatment always be accompanied by other punitive actions. Intensive supervision programs and electronic monitoring have been regarded as effective and, if used for offenders who otherwise would be incarcerated, can reduce corrections costs. Community service, although widely used, does not have a research foundation to support or discourage its use. Treatment/work release facilities allow for heightened incapacitation and show promise as an effective deterrent. It is recommended that the Commonwealth look into establishing a pilot program. Because it is judges who impose sanctions, it is recommended that they be informed of the effectiveness and risks associated with the alternatives at their disposal.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Jennifer C. Eilers

Last updated: December 23, 2023

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