The Role of Behavioral Phenotypes on Impaired Driving Recidivism Risk and Treatment Response to Brief Intervention: A Preliminary Study

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2019 Feb;43(2):324-333. doi: 10.1111/acer.13935. Epub 2018 Dec 31.


Background: Heterogeneity in the driving while impaired (DWI) offender population and modest outcomes from remedial programs are fueling interest in clarifying clinically significant DWI subtypes to better assess recidivism risk and target interventions. Our previous research identified 2 putative behavior phenotypes of DWI offenders with distinct behavioral, personality, cognitive, and neurobiological profiles: (i) offenders primarily engaging in DWI (pDWI); and (ii) offenders engaging in DWI and other traffic violations (MIXED). Here, we evaluate these phenotypes' clinical significance for prediction of recidivism and intervention targeting.

Methods: DWI recidivists participating in a previous randomized controlled trial (N = 184 comparing brief motivational interviewing (BMI) and an information and advice control condition (IA) were retrospectively classified as either pDWI (n = 97) or MIXED (n = 87). Secondary analyses then evaluated the effect of this phenotypic classification on self-reported 6- and 12-month alcohol misuse outcomes and documented 5-year DWI recidivism violations, and in response to either BMI or IA (i.e., pDWI-BMI, n = 46; MIXED-BMI, n = 45; pDWI-IA, n = 51; MIXED-IA, n = 42). Two hypotheses were tested: (i) MIXED classification is associated with poorer alcohol misuse outcomes and recidivism outcomes than pDWI classification; and (ii) pDWI paired with BMI is associated with better outcomes compared to MIXED paired with BMI.

Results: MIXED classification was associated with significantly greater risk of recidivism over the 5-year follow-up compared to pDWI classification. Moreover, the pDWI-BMI pairing was associated with significantly decreased recidivism risk compared to the MIXED-BMI pairing. Analyses of 6- and 12-month alcohol use outcomes produced null findings.

Conclusions: The clinical significance of phenotypic classification for risk assessment and targeting intervention was partially supported with respect to recidivism risk. Prospective investigation of this and other behavioral phenotypes is indicated.

Keywords: Alcohol; Brief Intervention; Driving While Impaired; Motivational Interviewing; Phenotype; Treatment Responsivity; Typology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Driving Under the Influence / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Phenotype
  • Recidivism*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult