Brief motivational interviewing for DWI recidivists who abuse alcohol and are not participating in DWI intervention: a randomized controlled trial

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Feb;34(2):292-301. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.01092.x. Epub 2009 Nov 20.


Background: Driving while impaired (DWI) recidivists with unresolved alcohol use problems pose an ongoing risk for traffic safety. Following conviction, many do not participate in mandated alcohol evaluation and intervention programs, or continue to drink problematically after being relicensed. This study investigated if, in DWI recidivists with alcohol problems and not currently involved in DWI intervention, Brief Motivational Interviewing (BMI) produced greater reductions in risky drinking at 6- and 12-month follow-up compared to an information-advice control condition. Additional analyses explored whether BMI was associated with greater readiness to change, subsequent substance abuse treatment service utilization, and satisfaction compared to the control condition.

Methods: Male and female recidivists with drinking problems and not currently engaged in DWI intervention were recruited, evaluated, and then randomly assigned to receive 1 of 2 manualized interventions: 30-minute BMI session or information-advice. Participants, interviewers, researchers, and statisticians were blind to assignment. Outcomes were changed in: percent of risky drinking days (i.e., > or =3 standard drinks/d for males; > or =2 for females) in the previous 6 months derived from the Timeline Followback, biomarkers of alcohol abuse (GGT, AST, ALT, MCV) by blood assay, and alcohol abuse-related behaviors using the MMPI-Mac scale. Data from the Readiness to Change Questionnaire, a substance abuse service utilization questionnaire, and the Client Satisfaction Scale were also collected.

Results: Analyses revealed significant declines in risky drinking with both interventions. BMI (n = 92) resulted in a 25% reduction in risky drinking days at 12-month follow-up, which compared to the control intervention (n = 92) represented a significant decline from 6-month levels. Exposure to BMI also produced significantly greater improvement at 6-month follow-up in a biomarker of alcohol abuse and a behavioral measure related to recidivism risk. Exploration of readiness to change, substance abuse service utilization, and satisfaction with intervention indicated a perception of BMI being more useful in coping with problems.

Conclusions: Brief MI approaches warrant further implementation and effectiveness research as an opportunistic DWI intervention strategy to reduce risks associated with alcohol use outside of clinical and DWI relicensing settings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Intoxication*
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Biomarkers
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • Recurrence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sample Size
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications


  • Biomarkers
  • Ethanol