An evaluation of the effectiveness of alcohol treatment, driver license actions and jail terms in reducing drunk driving recidivism in California

Addiction. 1997 Aug;92(8):989-97.


Aim: There has been long-standing interest in determining which sanctions work best to reduce drunk driving. This study examines the effectiveness of alcohol treatment, driver license actions and jail terms in reducing drunk-driving recidivism.

Design: This quasi-experimental study examines the relationships between the sanctions that drivers convicted of driving-under-the-influence (DUI) receive and their subsequent reconviction of DUI, while statistically controlling for pre-existing differences among groups receiving different sanctions. Separate analyses were conducted for subjects having 0, 1 or 2 or more prior DUI convictions on their driving record.

Setting: The study analyzes drunk driving reacidivism throughout the state of California. Participants. All drivers holding a California driver license who were convicted of DUI by a California court during 1990 and 1991 were selected for inclusion in the study.

Measurements: A number of demographic, prior personal driving history and surrogate traffic environment measures were collected and used as covariates in the analyses. Data were also gathered on subsequent DUI reconvictions, and the number of days to first subsequent DUI reconviction, and used as outcome variables in the study.

Findings: Results of the analyses showed that for all levels of prior DUI convictions, combining alcohol treatment with either driver license restriction or suspension is associated with the lowest DUI recidivism rates.

Conclusions: Based on this research, and the results of prior studies, it can be persuasively argued that combining license actions with alcohol treatment represents the most effective sanction combination for combating DUI recidivism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Recurrence
  • Social Control, Formal
  • Treatment Outcome