MADD’s Court Monitoring Program enlists court monitors to observe and document what happens in the courtroom during impaired driving case proceedings. The program was created to ensure that impaired driving offenders are prosecuted and justice is achieved. Court monitoring is a tool proven to affect the adjudication process and is recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as an effective countermeasure to reduce impaired driving 1 . Court monitors on the local scale can
impact the handling of impaired driving cases by their mere presence in the court room. Court monitoring is intended to enhance transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses. One way this goal is achieved is by sharing data and observations with law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and the public to promote awareness of impaired driving and ensure accountability for all impaired driving offenders. To reduce future offenses, MADD® supports swift and unbiased treatment of all impaired driving cases. 1 Richard, C. M., Magee, K., Bacon-Abdelmoteleb, P., & Brown, J. L. (2018, April). Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasure guide for State Highway Safety Offic- es, Ninth edition (Report No. DOT HS 812 478). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Volunteers monitor impaired driving cases in Loudoun County, Virginia. The data collected is then entered into the MADD National Court Monitoring Database for reporting purposes.
Virginia State Report (reporting period: (1/1/2020 – 12/31/2020)
This report is designed to present observations and trends relative to 624 Loudoun County cases monitored and is not intended to be a statistical analysis.
546 12 1 2 63
87% 2% <1% <1% 10%
Not Guilty Deferred Prosecution Dismissed Nolle Prosequi**
*Many guilty dispositions resulted with an amendment of the charge (200 of the 546 guilty verdicts 36%). **Nolle prosequi represents a legal action by the prosecution to not pursue a case further (a form of dismissal).
Key Findings and Observations MADD Loudoun volunteers started 2020 with a court monitor in attendance for all the 8:30AM and 10:00AM dockets and occasionally the 1:30pm dockets. Once the pandemic hit and the courts were closed, all the court monitoring data was done remotely through the VA public on-line court program database. As a result of the pandemic, DWI cases were paused and all jury trials were put on hold until November 2020. Due to continuances related to the pandemic, many 2020 offenses will not be concluded until the middle to end of 2021. Based on the case information collected and tracked by MADD Loudoun court monitors, the following observations were noted.
• Based on cases monitored in 2020, MADD noted 85% of cases ended with a disposition of guilty (546 cases). In 2019, this number of 86% (571 cases). • MADD noted a higher rate of Nolle prosequi/dismissals in 2020 (12%). • Many guilty dispositions resulted with an amendment of the original charge (200 of the 546 guilty
verdicts 36%). Typically, the case was amended to a lesser charge. • 13% of cases were noted as being reduced to reckless driving.
• 8% of cases had the additional charge of open container. For the charge of open container, MADD noted that if the overall case disposition was guilty, the open container charge was dismissed.
Blood Alcohol Content
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) refers to the percentage of alcohol in a person’s blood stream. In Virginia, a person is legally intoxicated if he/she has a BAC of .08% or higher. The BAC data was confirmed by using the local computers at Loudoun County Courthouse. • The highest BAC recorded by volunteers in 2020 was .44 on a single case. This number is over 5 times the legal limit. • A BAC level of under .08 often represents an underage impaired driver.
BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT CASE DATA
Lower Than .08 .16 – .19 .08 – .15 .20 – .25 .30 And Higher
Age & Gender
Age and gender data was confirmed for each case by using the local computers at Loudoun County Courthouse. • 21-29 year olds represented 31% of cases overall; followed by 22% within the ages of 30-39. • Based on cases monitored in 2020, 9% of defendants were underage. As a part of MADD’s lifesaving mission, underage drinking prevention is crucial to the health and wellbeing of Virginia’s youth. Studies show that youth who start drinking young are five times more likely to become alcohol dependent, which is likely to increase their chance of being involved in a drunk or drugged driving crash in their lifetime. Because of this risk, MADD provides two programs in the fight against underage drinking; Power of Youth® and Power of Parents® . Please visit https://www.madd.org/the-solution/teen-drinking-prevention/ to learn more about MADD’s programs.
Stay at Home orders did not cease impaired driving in the state. Many stores and restaurants offered curbside pickup options. This means individuals could pre-order alcohol at many stores and drive off after obtaining their order. MADD plans to continue to monitor cases in Loudoun County in 2021 to see how the pandemic has affected overall case numbers and dispositions.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN AFFECTED BY DRUNK OR DRUG- IMPAIRED DRIVING, MADD IS HERE TO HELP. CALL OUR VICTIM/ SURVIVOR 24-HOUR HELPLINE AT 877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435).
Classification Of Charge And Previous Offenses
Of cases monitored in 2020, 81% of cases were inputted as a first time DWI.
CLASSIFICATION OF CHARGE
Alcohol And Drug Related Cases
Of cases monitored in 2020, 89% of cases did not involve the use of a known substance, other than alcohol. Based on recent study by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2 conducted during the 2020 pandemic, roughly 65% of those involved in a serious or fatal crash tested positive for at least one active drug (alcohol, cannabis or opioids). This percentage represents an increase in both opioid and cannabis use compared to data 6 months prior to the pandemic. MADD Loudoun will continue to monitor all impaired driving charges; including drugged driving to see how changing events and laws have an effect on sentencing and proportion of drugged driving cases in the County. 2. Office of Behavioral Safety Research. (2021, January). Update to special reports on traffic safety During the COVID-19 public health emergency: Third quarter data. (Report No. DOT HS 813 069). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Alcohol Related Cases
Drug Or Poly Substance Cases
Driving a vehicle while impaired is a dangerous crime, yet continues to happen across the United States. Each year, about 1 million individuals are arrested. What happens after those arrests depends on the criminal justice system. As a MADD court monitor, you can get the insider’s perspective on the judicial system while making a vital contribution to your local community. Your presence in court and the data you collect will help make sure our laws are upheld and the criminal justice system does what it is intended to do: Keep us safe. Court monitors achieve the work of MADD’s Court Monitoring Program by doing the following:
Remind law enforcement that MADD wants to see their cases prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law
Track conviction rates and sanctions
Identify trends in offender age, gender, and blood alcohol concentration level
Notify judicial system of deficiencies
Create public outcry when weaknesses go unaddressed
For more information about court monitoring efforts in your state, please visit madd.org/courts .Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6
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