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2023/12/27: Deterrence on DUI recidivists under harsh punishment and intimidation tactics: News framing effect

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  • Last updated:2023-12-27
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Drinking and driving has always been one of the major crimes in China, and once a drink driving offense results in the death or injury of an innocent person, it may be reported by the news media and gain further attention from the public. In order to solve this problem, government agencies continue to amend laws and regulations in an attempt to deter drink driving crimes by imposing severe penalties. However, according to official statistics, the number of people imprisoned for drink driving has not decreased significantly in recent years, and the situation of recidivism is also quite serious. The above dilemma makes people reflect on the effectiveness of heavy penalties in deterring drink driving crimes, and it is also worthwhile to explore the reasons for repeated recidivism and the behavioral characteristics of drink driving offenders.

In view of this, this study examines the deterrent effect on repeat drunk driving offenders after the implementation of the announcement of the enactment (amendment) of Article 185-3 of the Criminal Law in 2019 and 2022 through database analysis. In addition, this study also interviewed six repeat offenders who had not caused death or injury, to understand their recidivism factors such as drinking and driving patterns and psychological characteristics. In addition, it has been more than 20 years since the law was amended after the criminalization of drinking and driving, and this study attempts to understand the changes in the reporting framework of drinking and driving news through newspaper news reports. Finally, this study will propose practical and research recommendations based on the findings of the study for the reference of relevant organizations.

The results of the database analysis showed that although the 2022 amendment had a more obvious inhibitory effect than the 2019 amendment, the deterrent effect of the two public danger amendments on drink driving recidivism was not statistically significant. The interviews revealed that after entering the criminal justice system several times, most of the respondents were able to understand the trend of increasing DUI law amendments. However, in addition to the common personal characteristics of offenders, such as rationalization, risk-taking, and other neutralization skills, these repeated offenders were not able to build up a sense of risk for DUI crashes because they had not been involved in a serious accident in the past, making it more difficult for them to recognize that DUI is a criminal offense. This makes it more difficult for them to recognize drink driving as a crime, and the deterrent effect of the severity of the penalties can hardly be achieved at this point. From the analysis of news frames, it can be seen that the framing of drink driving as a crime has gradually become the mainstream of the discourse in recent years. Therefore, it seems that severe penalties are the only means of deterring this criminal behavior, while other discussions focusing on medical treatment and social reintegration have gradually declined. Based on the findings of the previous study, this study suggests that the future direction of drink driving prevention and control should be based on promptness, certainty, or other dimensions that do not emphasize severe penalties.

Based on the results of the study, the following practical recommendations were made, including: "Increase the proportion of probationary drunk driving cases that are accompanied by addiction treatment", "Implement the classification of drunk driving treatment in prisons and jails", "Implement the principle of individualized treatment, and channel medical resources", "Provide beneficial and diversified addiction counseling and cognitive education programs", "Construct diversified treatment evaluation indexes", "Strictly investigate the sale of alcoholic beverages at welfare stations of works projects and try to change the culture of work drinking", and "Strictly investigate the sale of alcoholic beverages at work stations and try to change the culture of work drinking. Trying to change the drinking culture in the workplace", "Reflecting on the negative effects of strict punishment", "Strengthening the use of comprehensive sanctioning strategies", and "Reducing the chances of repeat offenders through the active intervention of significant others". In addition, other research directions have been proposed through the research process, such as: "Examining the inhibitory effects of administrative penalties and criminal penalties on drinking and driving cases", "Examining the inhibitory effects of different law amendment strategies on drinking and driving offenses", "Conducting a research on real public opinion", "Analyzing the psychological characteristics of offenders and their prevention and treatment strategies in the case of drinking and driving causing death and injury or not".

Keywords:drunk driving, recidivism, punitive criminal policy, deterrent effect, drunk driving treatment

For the full paper, please visit here (only in traditional Chinese version).

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