Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Carrie B. Oser

Second Advisor

Dr. J. Matthew Webster


Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most frequently committed offenses in the United States and approximately one-third of DUI offenders are recidivists. Researchers have evaluated multiple DUI prevention approaches, most of which have been rooted in deterrence theory. Recently, the criminal justice system has moved away from deterrence-based approaches and begun employing various forms of rehabilitation to reduce DUI recidivism. This shift in the criminal justice system has lead researchers to begin exploring the effects of rehabilitation on DUI offenders, including an examination of offender compliance with rehabilitation programs. Although each of these areas has been investigated separately, existing studies have not incorporated deterrence-related measures, rehabilitation compliance, and offender recidivism into a single model.

Utilizing a statewide sample of Kentucky DUI offenders, the primary goal of this dissertation was to examine whether rehabilitation compliance mediates the relationship between deterrence-related variables (conviction celerity and punishment severity) and DUI offender recidivism. Second, because existing studies have produced inconclusive or mixed results regarding deterrence among DUI offenders, analyses were conducted to examine the potential moderating effects of age, gender, substance use problem severity, and location on the relationship between deterrence-related variables and DUI recidivism.

Overall, the hypothesized mediation models were unsupported. There was no direct correlation between the deterrence-related variables and DUI recidivism. In addition, while there was some evidence of moderation, the hypothesized moderation models were also largely unsupported. Despite these results, compliance was significantly related to DUI recidivism in all four models, and there was evidence of relationships between both compliance and DUI recidivism with age, gender, problem severity, and location.

Findings highlight the importance of compliance and social and environmental variables in predicting DUI recidivism, suggesting that these variables may be more accurate predictors of DUI recidivism than deterrence-based variables. Results demonstrate a need for the criminal justice system to place more emphasis on offenders’ treatment needs, treatment accessibility, and retention of DUI offenders in rehabilitation programs in order to decrease DUI recidivism.