Conviction or Diversion and the Labeling of First-Time DUI Offenders: An Analysis of Sentencing and Recidivism in Pennsylvania

Lauren K. Knoth, R. Barry Ruback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examines the sentencing and recidivism of 34,315 first-time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania. Results indicated that individuals processed through accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) rather than a guilty conviction were more likely to be white, female, and older and to have less serious prior records. In terms of recidivism, those receiving ARD were significantly less likely than those found guilty to be rearrested within 4 years. Results also showed the effects of contingent labeling, in that ARD reduced recidivism for females and minorities, possibly because they did not suffer from the cumulative disadvantage of being labeled a criminal. These findings suggest that diversion programs could be used with first-time DUI offenders, even males and whites, without a consequent increase in recidivism. Moreover, the study provides support for diversionary programs for demographic groups (women and minorities) who may be disproportionately affected by a permanent criminal label.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJustice Quarterly
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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