Greg Midgette--A Natural Experiment to Test the Effect of Sanction Certainty and Celerity on Substance-Impaired Driving: North Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Program

Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 12:00pm


Objectives: Evaluate the deterrent effect on substance-impaired driving of a program that increases the certainty and celerity of sanctions faced by arrestees ordered to abstain from drugs and alcohol after repeated arrests for drug or alcohol-related offenses.
Methods: We examine participant compliance with orders to abstain from drug and alcohol use and variation in program design across jurisdictions. We then test the impact of the 24/7 Sobriety program on substance-impaired driving arrests. Using variation across counties in the timing of program implementation in North Dakota as a natural experiment, we estimate difference-in-differences count regressions to measure the program’s effect on community-level arrests for substance-impaired driving. 
Results: After accounting for the rise in arrests associated with oil exploration and extraction in the state’s Bakken region, differences in alcohol availability, and other local characteristics, we find that 24/7 is associated with a reduction in substance-impaired driving arrests. We find this community-level effect magnitude is insensitive to small changes in incentives for participant compliance. The effect was concentrated in the period after the state instituted statutory program enrollment lengths.
Conclusions: The results suggest monitoring combined with increased sanction celerity deters alcohol and drug-involved crime. State and county-level adaptations to make the program feasible in new jurisdictions may result in higher program violation rates, but not higher community-level DUI arrest rates.