SWOV Catalogus

103651

The New Philadelphia Story : the effects of severe penalties for drunk driving.
C 25001 /83 /
Ross, H.L. & Voas, R.B.
Washington, D.C., American Automobile Association AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 1989, 34 p., 25 ref.

Samenvatting This report documents the experience of a community - New Philadelphia, Tuscarawas County, Ohio - in which a concerned judge, Edward Emmett O'Farrell, attempted to apply the approach to drunk driving that views it as a criminal justice problem, best addressed with tough laws. Judge O'Farrell's most visible innovation in the matter of drunk driving was adoption of a sentencing policy providing for jail terms, initially of 10 days and subsequently of 15 days, for first offenders. These were accompanied by heavy fines and by driver license restrictions backed up with the issuance of special plates identifying the restricted driver's vehicle to both the police and the public. Plea bargaining was rejected in his court for all offenses, including drunk driving. This study of the impact of Judge O'Farrell's policies is based on visits to Ohio in the spring of 1988, at which time the policies had been in effect for 6 years. It is based on interviews, analyses of documents, and on a survey of drivers in New Philadelphia and in Cambridge, a city 40 miles to the south, where a high-quality but more conventional court system prevailed. Briefly summarized, it was found that the policies appeared to have been consistently applied by Judge O'Farrell. Their implementation encountered two severe problems, one of which seems to have been resolved. In the beginning, the policies led to a nearly overwhelming increase in demands for jury trials. This load was reduced by a 1983 change to an "illegal per se" state law, diminishing the prospects of a successful defense in cases where alcohol breath test evidence was available. The other problem arose in 1985, when facilities at the Tuscarawas County jail were greatly reduced as a consequence of a lawsuit. Although efforts were made by the court to manage the problem, limited jail space remains an important constraint on the O'Farrell policies. Results of a driver survey in both cities indicated that drivers in New Philadelphia were aware of more severe sanctions in the event of conviction, corresponding to reality. However, the surveys failed to show less drinking and driving in New Philadelphia. (Author/publisher)
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