Driving While Suspended Study

Observational Study of the Extent of Driving
While Suspended for Alcohol Impaired Driving

A T McCartt1, L L Geary1 and A Berning2

1 Preusser Research Group, Inc, Trumbull, Connecticut

2 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington


Correspondence to:

A T McCartt, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1005 North Glebe
Road, Arlington, VA 22201–4751, USA;

[email protected]


Objective: To determine the proportion of first time driving while
alcohol impaired (DWI) offenders who drive while their
driver’s license is suspended.

Design: Systematic, unobtrusive observations were conducted by
surveillance professionals from Pinkerton Investigative Services, Inc, of
first time offenders in the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Bergen
County, New Jersey. Observations included two four hour periods during
suspension (one weekday morning, one Friday/Saturday evening) and two
four hour periods after license reinstatement (matched by day of week and
time of day). Focus groups of first time offenders were conducted in each

Setting: New Jersey laws pertaining to license suspension for DWI and
driving while suspended are stronger than Wisconsin laws.

Subjects: 93 recently convicted first time DWI offenders (57 in
Milwaukee and 36 in Bergen County).

Main outcome measures: Proportion of subjects observed driving during
suspension and after license reinstatement, with reference to all
subjects and subjects observed traveling by any means.

Results: Of subjects observed traveling while suspended, 88% of
Milwaukee subjects compared with 36% of Bergen County subjects drove.
Five percent of Milwaukee subjects and 78% of Bergen County subjects
reinstated their driver’s license. Bergen County
subjects were significantly more likely to drive after reinstatement
(54%) than during suspension (25%).

Conclusion: Prevalence of driving while suspended among first time
offenders is high and can vary substantially between jurisdictions.
However, the license suspension can have a positive impact on the driving
patterns of offenders during suspension, relative to after license
reinstatement. Lower prevalence of driving while suspended in New Jersey
may partly be attributable to that state’s tougher

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