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Staggered Sentencing

Developed by Minnesota Judge James Dehn, staggered sentencing is an intensive and rehabilitative post-conviction approach to dealing with DUI offenders. Similar to DWI Courts, the staggered sentence approach is designed for repeat offenders and relies on increased court involvement in offender supervision, offender accountability, and treatment.

In contrast to the traditional approach to punishment, a staggered sentence involves a convicted DUI offender serving a portion of their required period of incarceration followed by appearances before a judge for assessment of their progress. If the offender is in compliance with the conditions imposed by the court (e.g., abstinence), they are permitted to serve the remainder of their sentence in the community as opposed to in a correctional facility. Instances of non-compliance or violation of their conditions would result in imposition of the full period of incarceration.

Responsibility.org supports the use of sentencing approaches that emphasize both accountability and rehabilitation. Substance abuse issues are common among the repeat DUI offender population and punishment in a vacuum is unlikely to be successful in deterring future offending. As a result, we are in favor of innovative practices that require offenders to face their problems while simultaneously being held responsible for their actions. Programs such as staggered sentencing are a promising alternative within the criminal justice system for handling recidivist drunk drivers. Read our complete policy position here.

Additional resources:

Staggered Sentencing (NASJE)

Controlling Repeat DUI Offenders with Staggered Sentencing (MN House of Representatives)