Influencing recidivist drink drivers' entrenched behaviours : the self-reported outcomes of three countermeasures

Freeman, James Edwin (2004) Influencing recidivist drink drivers' entrenched behaviours : the self-reported outcomes of three countermeasures. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Concern remains regarding the efficacy of drink driving countermeasures to produce lasting change for repeat offenders, as a wide array of countermeasures have been developed that demonstrate varying levels of success in reducing re-offence rates. This thesis proposes that the collection and examination of repeat offenders' self-reported perceptions, experiences and behavioural changes that result from completing court-ordered interventions can provide valuable contributions to the development of effective sentencing strategies. As a result, the program of research implemented a mixed-method design to investigate the self-reported impact of legal sanctions, a drink driving rehabilitation program, and alcohol ignition interlocks on key outcome measures for a group of recidivist drink drivers.-----

Study One incorporated a cross-sectional design to examine the deterrent effect of traditional legal sanctions (e.g., fines and licence disqualification periods), non-legal sanctions, alcohol consumption, recent offending behaviour(s), and the actual severity of sanctions on perceptual deterrence and intentions to re-offend. The study involved face-to-face and telephone interviews with 166 repeat offenders. The analysis indicated that participants perceived legal sanctions to be severe, but not entirely certain nor swift.-----

In Study One, self-reported recent drink driving behaviours and alcohol consumption levels were identified as predictors of future intentions to drink and drive. The results suggest that habitual behaviours are difficult to change, and heavy alcohol consumption levels increase the probability of re-offending. At a bivariate level, three non-legal sanctions were negatively associated with intentions to re-offend but were not predictors of future intentions to drink and drive in the model. In addition, a relationship was not evident between: (a) the size of the penalties and perceptions of sanction severity or future intentions to drink and drive, and (b) the number of previous convictions and self-reported deterrence. The findings of the study confirm the popular assumption that some repeat offenders are impervious to the threat and application of legal sanctions.-----

Study Two examined the stages of change and self-efficacy levels of 132 repeat offenders - who were all involved in Study One - while they completed an 11 week drink driving rehabilitation program. A repeated measures design was implemented to focus on the impact of the intervention on a number of salient program outcomes such as participants' motivations and self-efficacy levels to control and change their drinking and drink driving behaviour(s). Prior to program commencement, the majority of participants were motivated to change their drinking driving, but not their drinking. The sample also reported high self-efficacy levels to control the two behaviours, but did not have high expectations of the effectiveness of the program.-----

Upon completion of the program, significant increases were evident in motivations to change drinking and drink driving behaviours, and a large percentage of participants reported a positive appraisal of the effectiveness of the intervention. Program completion also resulted in a reduction in self-reported alcohol consumption levels, yet the majority of the sample continued to consume harmful levels of alcohol. Self-efficacy levels remained high, although a notable finding was that participants reported higher levels of control over their drinking rather than drink driving behaviours. In general, Study Two provided a positive perspective of the capacity of a drink driving rehabilitation program to produce change for a group of repeat offenders.-----

Study Two extended a small body of research and examined the effects that mandated program enrolment has on motivations to change, as well as expectations and appraisals of program effectiveness. Contrary to predictions, mandated participants did not report lower levels of motivation to change drinking and drink driving compared to voluntary attendees, but did indicate lower expectations of the effectiveness of the program, as well as being willing to engage in the program. Furthermore upon program completion, mandated participants also reported lower appraisals of the effectiveness of the program, but this factor was not associated with intentions to re-offend or non-program completion. Rather, not successfully completing the program appeared linked with being unwilling to change drinking behaviours.-----

Study Three involved a longitudinal case-study design that utilised both quantitative and qualitative data to conduct one of the first examinations of the impact of alcohol ignition interlocks on a group of recidivist drink drivers from a users' perspective. The study investigated 12 participants' self-reported perceptions and experiences of using an interlock and the effect that the device had on key program outcomes such as drinking levels, operational performance, circumvention attempts and general beliefs regarding the effectiveness of the device in comparison to traditional legal sanctions.-----

Participants reported positive appraisals regarding the effectiveness of the device as qualitative themes emerged concerning the educational and practical benefits of interlocks. However, closer examination of individual interlock performances revealed each participant had attempted to start their vehicle after consuming alcohol, and a smaller sample of three drivers were regularly attempting to start their vehicle after drinking. The combination and analysis of self-reported and downloaded interlock data revealed four main themes: (a) initial operational difficulties, (b) a general unwillingness to reduce alcohol consumption levels, (c) an unwillingness to acknowledge/recognise that interlock breath violations resulted from drinking, and (d) an overall decline in the frequency of interlock breath violations over the interlock installation period. Similar to Study Two, a notable finding was that half the sample was still consuming harmful levels of alcohol upon program completion.-----

Taken together, the results of the program of research highlight that repeat offenders' entrenched behaviours, such as drinking and drink driving, are resistant to change and that multi-modal interventions are required if the drinking and driving sequence is to be broken for this population. The findings have direct implications for the sentencing and management of repeat offenders and the development of countermeasures that attempt to produce long-term behavioural change.

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ID Code: 15927
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Liossis, Calliope & Sheehan, Mary
Keywords: Drink Driving, Recidivist, Repeat Offender, Deterrence, Behavioural Change, Legal Sanctions, Rehabilitation Programs, Alcohol Ignition Interlocks
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Department: Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 James Edwin Freeman
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:53
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:40

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