Drink driving rehabilitation programs and alcohol ignition interlocks: Is there a need for more research?

Freeman, James E. & Liossis, Poppy (2002) Drink driving rehabilitation programs and alcohol ignition interlocks: Is there a need for more research? Road and Transport Research: a journal of Australian and New Zealand research and practice, 4, pp. 3-13.


Drink driving continues to be a serious problem on Australian roads, as alcohol-related crashes result in substantial injuries, fatalities and property damage. While legal sanctions such as fines and licence disqualification periods have been effective in preventing a large proportion of the population from drink driving, sanctions have been relatively ineffective in reducing alcohol-impaired driving among 'hard-core' repeat offenders (Marques, Voas and Hodgins 1998). As a result, drink driving rehabilitation programs and alcohol ignition interlocks are being employed as additional countermeasures to reduce the prevalence of alcohol-related injuries and fatalities on public roads. This report aims to review the current evidence regarding the effectiveness of rehabilitation and interlock programs, and to provide support for the expansion of upcoming Australian interlock trials to include (a) screening and matching procedures, (b) intervention and/or support programs and (c) formative evaluations that focus on a number of measurement outcomes.

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that between 20% and 30% of convicted drink drivers re-offend (Buchanan 1995; Henderson 1996; Langford, 1998; Popkin 1994; Ryan et al. 1996) and that this sub-group of drivers is disproportionately represented in crash statistics (Hedlund and Fell 1995; Marques et al. 1998). The most common strategy to deter convicted drink drivers has traditionally been to increase law-enforcement activities such as arrests, convictions, fines and licence disqualification periods (Longest 1999). This approach has proven extremely successful for the majority of people who fear authority or perceive the probability of apprehension as relatively high and sanctions as severe (Homel 1988; Ross 1992). However punitive sanctions have not proven to be as effective for recidivist, habitual drink drivers who have previously experienced punitive sanctions such as fines and licence disqualification periods but continue to drink and drive.

There has been continued debate within the literature regarding the effectiveness of legal sanctions to reduce recidivist drink driving compared with that of alternative countermeasures such as rehabilitation programs (Nichols and Ross 1990). While research has demonstrated that first-time offenders benefit most from licence sanctions (e.g. disqualification periods), rehabilitation programs (often in combination with legal sanctions) produce the greatest and longest reduction in repeat offending for recidivist drink drivers (DeYoung 1997; McKnight and Voas 1991; Sadler, Perrine and Peck 1991).

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ID Code: 5946
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: rehabilitation, drink driving
ISSN: 1037-5783
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Psychology not elsewhere classified (170199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
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
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 ARRB Group
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 16 Jan 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:36

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