The Efficacy of the Rio Hondo DUI Court

A 2-Year Field Experiment

Published in: Evaluation Review, v. 31, no. 1, Feb. 2007, p. 4-23

by John MacDonald, Andrew R. Morral, Barbara Raymond, Christine Eibner

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This study reports results from an evaluation of the experimental Rio Hondo driving under the influence (DUI) court of Los Angeles County, California. Interviews and official record checks with 284 research participants who were randomly assigned to a DUI court or a traditional criminal court were assessed at baseline and at 24-month follow-up. The interviews assessed the impact of the DUI court on self-reported drunk driving behavior, the completion of treatment, time spent in jail, alcohol use, and stressful life events. Official record checks assessed the impact of the DUI court on subsequent arrests for driving under the influence and other drinking-related behaviors. Few differences on any outcomes were observed between participants in the experimental DUI court and those assigned to the traditional court. The results suggest that the DUI court model had little additional therapeutic or public safety benefit over the traditional court process. The implication of these findings for the popularity of specialized courts for treating social problems is discussed.

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