The injured intoxicated driver: analysis of the conviction process

J Trauma. 2001 Sep;51(3):551-6. doi: 10.1097/00005373-200109000-00023.


Background: The widespread nature of alcohol-related motor vehicle collisions suggests inadequacies in the system for deterring alcohol use when driving. This study was performed to determine whether hospitalization is a component in a "system failure" that allows injured, alcohol-impaired drivers to escape arrest and conviction for driving under the influence (DUI).

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of medical and court records of intoxicated drivers injured in a motor vehicle collision who were transported to our Level I trauma center from January 1, 1997, through December 31, 1998.

Results: Of the 213 intoxicated drivers in our study, 172 (81%) were followed up by law enforcement officials, and 156 (73.2%) were arrested for DUI. Of those who were arrested and completed court hearings, 135 (93.8%) were convicted for DUI.

Conclusion: These values are higher than those reported in previous studies and indicate that hospitalization does not "protect" injured, intoxicated drivers in our community.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Pennsylvania / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data