Predictors of Conviction and Sentencing of DWI Offenders in a New Mexico County Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To analyze predictors of conviction and dismissal of individuals charged with DWI, and predictors of the sentences of those who are convicted. METHODS: Data come from the Citation Tracking System of the State of New Mexico's Motor Vehicle Division and includes information on all individuals who were arrested for DWI in San Juan County between August 1994 and December 2000. Independent variables were: age, gender, race/ethnicity, waiver of right to an attorney, court of arraignment, year of arrest, BAC, and number of prior DWI arrests. Dependent variables were: (1) conviction or dismissal, (2) jail or no jail, (3) incarceration/treatment or not, (4) fine or no fine, (5) length of jail sentence, (6) waived right of attorney, and (7) magnitude of fine. Multiple linear and logistic regression was used in the analyses. RESULTS: Use of an attorney is associated with reduced likelihood of conviction and, if convicted, in reduced likelihood of jail sentence and reduced jail time, but greater likelihood and magnitude of a fine. Native Americans were more likely than Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites to waive their right to an attorney. Native Americans were most likely to be sentenced to the detention/treatment program. BAC and number of prior arrests were each positively associated with increased likelihood of conviction and more severe sentences. There is also substantial variability in severity of sentencing among courts. CONCLUSION: Likelihood of conviction and severity of sentences are both determined by extra-legal factors, resulting in inconsistent application of the law. This may in turn contribute to a lack of compliance with laws related to DWI.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kunitz, S. J., Zhao, H., Wheeler, D. R., & Woodall, W. G.

citation count

  • 3

publication date

  • March 2006