Drinking-driving compliance in the United States: perceptions and behavior in 1983 and 1986

J Stud Alcohol. 1989 Jul;50(4):306-19. doi: 10.15288/jsa.1989.50.306.


This investigation of drinking and driving explored American attitudes, beliefs, legal knowledge and self-reported violations through national surveys in 1983 (1,000 drivers) and 1986 (1,800 drivers). The findings from 1986 replicated all of the basic drinking-driving control tactics reported in 1983, and there were modest gains in compliance rates over time. There was a decrease in perceived certainty of arrests, but, in view of the compliance gains, this decrease seems to have been compensated by increases in legal knowledge, credibility of sanctions and personal support for drunk-driving controls. While there was support for some elements of simple deterrence theory, the findings are more fully accommodated by the inculcation process implied in general deterrence theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / prevention & control
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • United States


  • Ethanol