Treatment Needs of Driving While Intoxicated Offenders: The Need for a Multimodal Approach to Treatment

Traffic Inj Prev. 2015;16(7):637-44. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2015.1013189.


Objective: This study aimed to characterize and compare the treatment needs of adults with driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenders recruited from a correctional residential treatment facility and the community to provide recommendations for treatment development.

Method: A total of 119 adults (59 residential, 60 community) with at least one DWI offense were administered clinical diagnostic interviews to assess substance use disorders and completed a battery of questionnaires assessing demographic characteristics, legal history, psychiatric diagnoses, medical diagnoses, and health care utilization.

Results: Almost all (96.6%) DWI offenders met clinical diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder, approximately half of the sample also met diagnostic criteria for comorbid substance use disorders, and a substantial proportion also reported psychiatric and medical comorbidities. However, a high percentage were not receiving treatment for these issues, most likely as a result of having limited access to care, because the majority of participants had no current health insurance (64.45%) or primary care physician (74.0%). The residential sample had more extensive criminal histories compared to the community sample but was generally representative of the community in terms of their clinical characteristics. For instance, the groups did not differ in rates of substance use, psychiatric and medical health diagnoses, or the treatment of such issues, with the exception of alcohol abuse treatment.

Conclusions: DWI offenders represent a clinical population with high levels of complex and competing treatment needs that are not currently being met. Our findings demonstrate the need for standardized screening of DWI offenders and call for the development of a multimodal treatment approach in efforts to reduce recidivism.

Keywords: alcohol; driving while intoxicated; recidivism; treatment; wraparound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / therapy*
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology