Drinking drivers : a descriptive study of clients referred to diversion programs

The primary purpose of this study is to describe a population of persons convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) so that the probable effectiveness of the current countermeasures could be estimated and revisions or new countermeasures could be proposed on a rational basis. A secondary objective was to identify and evaluate the criteria used for referral. The socio-economic, cultural and educational backgrounds of the clients along with the degree to which they are involved with alcohol will determine how receptive they are to rehabilitation. Traditionally, all drinking drivers, social as well as problem, have been handled in the same way. The new method of dealing with drunk drivers treats different kinds of drinking drivers with different programs. The three criteria of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), coupled with an alcohol questionnaire designed to separate problem drinkers from social drinkers and prior arrests for drunk driving determined which rehabilitation program a client attended. Further analyses of the program show that when using BAC as a criteria for program assignment, 667 clients were assigned to the four week Level I school for social drinkers that should have been assigned to the eight week Level II school for problem drinkers. Using Questionnaire II as a criteria for assignment, specifically seven or more yeses, we find that 389 clients with seven plus answers were assigned to Level I when Level II was the appropriate placement. Lastly, using prior drunk driving arrests as criteria, only 71 of the 266 clients who had at least one prior arrest were placed in the proper Level II school. The statistical data revealed that the typical client was a 37 year old male, high school graduate. He was employed, mostly as a blue collar worker whose monthly income was between $500 and $1000. He was a heavy drinker, determined by BAC at the time of arrest, is encountering problems in his life due to alcohol as determined by an alcohol involvement questionnaire and was assigned erroneously to a treatment program for social, non-problem drinkers.