Assessing Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Offender Characteristics and Drinking Problems Utilizing the Numerical Drinking Profile (NDP)

By Barry, Adam E.; Misra, Ranjita et al. | Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Assessing Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Offender Characteristics and Drinking Problems Utilizing the Numerical Drinking Profile (NDP)


Barry, Adam E., Misra, Ranjita, Dennis, Maurice, Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education


Abstract

Driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is a major public health concern. By distinguishing the type of individuals violating driving while intoxicated (DWI) sanctions, intervention programs will be better suited to reduce drinking and driving. The purpose of this study was to examine the personal characteristics of DWI offenders and assess their drinking problem utilizing the Numerical Drinking Profile (NDP). Respondents consisted of 199 DWI offenders enrolled in a court mandated DWI education program from 2001-2003. Multivariate regression analysis indicated that older offenders, those who began drinking at an earlier age, and individuals arrested for their first alcohol-related offense at a younger age were more likely to have a potential or evident alcohol problem.

INTRODUCTION

Driving safely requires constant decision making based upon an ever changing environment. The consumption of alcohol impairs this decision making process as well as the performance skills associated with driving (Moskowitz & Fiorentino, 2000). Although the Dietary Guidelines for Americans define moderate alcohol consumption as "no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men," (USDHHS & USDA, 2000) impairment of driving-related performance skills due to alcohol have been documented as occurring at the lowest measurable levels (Ogden & Moskowitz, 2004). An extensive literature review documents 47% of studies reporting impairment at 0.05 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), well below the legal limit of intoxication in all fifty states (Moskowitz & Fiorentino, 2000). Further, 92% percent of the studies were found to report impairment of driving related abilities at a BAC of 0.08 percent (Moskowitz & Fiorentino, 2000). The relative risk of fatal crash involvement increases exponentially with rising driver BAC (Zador, Krawchuck, & Voas, 2000).

Driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is a major public health concern, as evident from the national health objective set forth by Healthy People 2010 to reduce deaths and injuries caused by alcohol- and drug-related motor vehicle crashes by the year 2010 (USDHHS, 2000). Public sentiment echoes this commitment in the National Survey of Drinking and Driving reporting that 97% of survey participants perceived drinking and driving by others as a threat to their own personal safety as well as that of their family (NHTSA, 2003). In order to curb drinking and driving rates, national policies such as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and the Transportation Appropriations Bill were developed (NHTSA, 2001). These policies sought to provide incentives for states adopting .08 BAC laws and subject penalties, such as the withholding of construction funds, on states failing to adopt .08 per se laws (NHTSA, 2001). At the state level, legal sanctions attempt to deter drinking and driving behavior as well as the likelihood of recidivism (Hingson, 1996; Voas & Fisher, 2001). Violations of driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws carry penalties including monetary fines, jail time, and license suspension. In addition to these punitive actions, Texas implements a comprehensive, court mandated DWI education program in an effort to change the behavior of drinking and driving individuals (TCADA, 2001).

However, in order to more effectively reduce the magnitude of persons engaging in drinking and driving, it is important to first discern the type of individual violating these legal sanctions. Hence, the purpose of this study is to: (1) examine the personal characteristics of DWI offenders attending a court mandated DWI education course; (2) assess the drinking problem reported among these offenders; and (3) examine the gender and ethnic differences in relation to offender drinking problems and characteristics. Results can provide information for designing culturally appropriate and gender specific intervention programs to combat this major public health concern. …

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