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DWI Offenders under Correctional Supervision


SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 1999                202/307-0784

         MORE THAN 500,000 DRUNK DRIVERS 

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   An estimated 513,200
people were under correctional supervision as a
consequence of driving while intoxicated by
alcohol (DWI) in 1997 up from 270,100 in 1986, the
Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics
(BJS) announced today.  There were 454,500 on
probation; 41,100 in local jails; and 17,600 in
state prisons.

     Between 1986 and 1997 the number of people
arrested for DWI (including a small number under
the influence of drugs) fell 18 percent from 1.8
million to 1.5 million, while the number of
licensed drivers increased almost 15 percent,
according to a special BJS report.  During this
12-year period the annual rate of arrests per
100,000 drivers fell from 1,124  to 809.

     The decline in drunk driving arrests may be
partially attributed to the aging of licensed
drivers.  In 1997, 54 percent of licensed drivers
were age 40 or older, up from 46 percent in 1986. 
For both years, the older the driver over age 21,
the lower the rate of DWI arrest. In 1986 and 1997
people from 21 to 24 years old had the highest
arrest rates (2,384 and 1,695 respectively) per
100,000 drivers.  Drivers 65 years old or older
had the lowest arrest rates (114 in 1986 and 78 in

     While the number of drunk driving arrests
decreased, the number of drunk drivers under
correctional supervision (prison, jail or
probation) nearly doubled between 1986 and 1997. 
For every 1,000 DWI arrests in 1997, 347 offenders
were under correctional supervision up from 151 in

     In personal interviews conducted for BJS,
half of the DWI offenders in jail said they had
consumed the equivalent of at least 12 beers or
six glasses of wine prior to their arrest.  Half
of those on probation said they had consumed at
least eight beers or four glasses of wine.  The
average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.24
among jail inmates and 0.19 among probationers--
about double the most common BAC limit of 0.10.

     Thirty-four percent of the jail inmates and 8
percent of those on probation reported three or
more prior arrests for driving while intoxicated. 
Two percent of the probationers, 12 percent of the
jail inmates and 6 percent of the state prison
inmates said they had been previously sentenced
for driving while intoxicated five or more times.

     Sixty-six percent of the jail inmates and 55
percent of the probationers reported their
involvement in a domestic dispute while under the
influence of alcohol.  Among the jail inmates, 23
percent said their drinking had cost them their
jobs, and 50 percent said they had been in a fight
while drinking.

     Thirty-one percent of the probationers said
they drank daily, as did almost 40 percent of 
the jail inmates.  Thirty-seven percent of the
probationers and 47 percent of those in jail
exhibited signs of alcohol dependency.  Twenty-four 
percent of the probationers and 38 percent of
those in jail reported having had a drink first
thing in the morning.

     Forty-six percent of the probationers said
they had received treatment from a trained
professional for their alcohol abuse since being
sentenced, but only 4 percent of the jail inmates
reported being in treatment.

     Sixty-two percent of the probationers and 17
percent of the jail inmates had participated in
alcohol abuse programs, such as Alcoholics
Anonymous or peer group counseling, since
sentencing.  About three-quarters of these DWI
offenders had taken part in such programs or had
received treatment in the past.

     Compared to other offenders under
correctional supervision, DWI offenders were more
commonly white and male, older and better
educated.  Two-thirds were white and non-Hispanic. 
Seventeen percent of probationers were women, as
were 7 percent of the jail inmates and 6 percent
of the state prison inmates.  Their average age
ranged from 36 to 38 years old, depending on the
population.  Thirty-seven percent of those on
probation, 18 percent of those in jail and 16
percent of those in prison had attended at least
some college.

     The special report, "DWI Offenders under
Correctional Supervision" (NCJ-172212), was
written by BJS statistician Laura M. Maruschak. 
Single copies may be obtained from the BJS 
fax-on-demand system by dialing 301/519-5550,
listening to the complete menu and selecting
document number 158.  Or call the BJS
Clearinghouse number: 1-800-732-3277.  Fax 
orders for mail delivery to 410/792-4358.  The BJS
Internet site is:

     Additional criminal justice materials can be
obtained from the Office of Justice Programs
homepage at:

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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
Date Published: June 13, 1999