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.