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High re-arrest rates among drug-impaired drivers despite zero-tolerance legislation.
Accid Anal Prev. 2008 Mar; 40(2):534-40.AA

Abstract

BACKGROUND

A zero-tolerance law for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Sweden led to a 10-fold increase in the number of cases submitted by the police for toxicological analysis. The statutory blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving is 0.2 mg/g (approximately 0.02 g%).

METHODS

An in-house database (TOXBASE) was used to investigate re-arrests for impaired driving over 4 years (2001-2004), which comprised 36,799 cases. The age, gender, re-arrest rate of the offenders and the concentrations of ethanol and amphetamine in blood samples were evaluated.

RESULTS

We found that 44% of individuals (N=16,277) re-offended 3.2 times on average (range 1-23 arrests). Between 85 and 89% of first-time offenders were men and there was also a male dominance among the recidivists (88-93%). The mean age of drunken drivers was approximately 40 years compared with approximately 35 years for driving under the influence of amphetamine, which was the drug identified in 50-60% of DUID cases, either alone or together with other licit or illicit drugs. The median BAC was 1.5mg/g (approximately 0.15 g%), which suggests a dominance of heavy drinkers. The median BAC was even higher in recidivists (1.6-1.7 mg/g). The median concentration of amphetamine in blood was 1.0 mg/L in recidivists compared with 0.5mg/L in the first-time offenders. About 14% of drunken drivers re-offended 1-10 times compared with 68% of DUID suspects, who were re-arrested 1-23 times. People with only a scheduled prescription drug in blood were re-arrested much less frequently (approximately 17%) compared with those taking illicit drugs (68%).

CONCLUSIONS

The appreciable increase in number of arrests for DUID after a zero-tolerance law might reflect a heightened enthusiasm by the police authorities armed with knowledge that a prosecution is easier to obtain. Zero-tolerance laws do not deter people from impaired driving judging by the high re-arrest rates. During the sentencing of hardcore offenders, the courts should give more consideration to the underlying substance abuse problem.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Forensic Genetics and Forensic Toxicology, National Board of Forensic Medicine, Artillerigatan 12, SE-581 33 Linköping, Sweden.No affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

18329404

Citation

Holmgren, Anita, et al. "High Re-arrest Rates Among Drug-impaired Drivers Despite Zero-tolerance Legislation." Accident; Analysis and Prevention, vol. 40, no. 2, 2008, pp. 534-40.
Holmgren A, Holmgren P, Kugelberg FC, et al. High re-arrest rates among drug-impaired drivers despite zero-tolerance legislation. Accid Anal Prev. 2008;40(2):534-40.
Holmgren, A., Holmgren, P., Kugelberg, F. C., Jones, A. W., & Ahlner, J. (2008). High re-arrest rates among drug-impaired drivers despite zero-tolerance legislation. Accident; Analysis and Prevention, 40(2), 534-40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2007.08.009
Holmgren A, et al. High Re-arrest Rates Among Drug-impaired Drivers Despite Zero-tolerance Legislation. Accid Anal Prev. 2008;40(2):534-40. PubMed PMID: 18329404.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - High re-arrest rates among drug-impaired drivers despite zero-tolerance legislation. AU - Holmgren,Anita, AU - Holmgren,Per, AU - Kugelberg,Fredrik C, AU - Jones,A Wayne, AU - Ahlner,Johan, Y1 - 2007/09/14/ PY - 2007/02/07/received PY - 2007/07/04/revised PY - 2007/08/20/accepted PY - 2008/3/11/pubmed PY - 2008/8/2/medline PY - 2008/3/11/entrez SP - 534 EP - 40 JF - Accident; analysis and prevention JO - Accid Anal Prev VL - 40 IS - 2 N2 - BACKGROUND: A zero-tolerance law for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Sweden led to a 10-fold increase in the number of cases submitted by the police for toxicological analysis. The statutory blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving is 0.2 mg/g (approximately 0.02 g%). METHODS: An in-house database (TOXBASE) was used to investigate re-arrests for impaired driving over 4 years (2001-2004), which comprised 36,799 cases. The age, gender, re-arrest rate of the offenders and the concentrations of ethanol and amphetamine in blood samples were evaluated. RESULTS: We found that 44% of individuals (N=16,277) re-offended 3.2 times on average (range 1-23 arrests). Between 85 and 89% of first-time offenders were men and there was also a male dominance among the recidivists (88-93%). The mean age of drunken drivers was approximately 40 years compared with approximately 35 years for driving under the influence of amphetamine, which was the drug identified in 50-60% of DUID cases, either alone or together with other licit or illicit drugs. The median BAC was 1.5mg/g (approximately 0.15 g%), which suggests a dominance of heavy drinkers. The median BAC was even higher in recidivists (1.6-1.7 mg/g). The median concentration of amphetamine in blood was 1.0 mg/L in recidivists compared with 0.5mg/L in the first-time offenders. About 14% of drunken drivers re-offended 1-10 times compared with 68% of DUID suspects, who were re-arrested 1-23 times. People with only a scheduled prescription drug in blood were re-arrested much less frequently (approximately 17%) compared with those taking illicit drugs (68%). CONCLUSIONS: The appreciable increase in number of arrests for DUID after a zero-tolerance law might reflect a heightened enthusiasm by the police authorities armed with knowledge that a prosecution is easier to obtain. Zero-tolerance laws do not deter people from impaired driving judging by the high re-arrest rates. During the sentencing of hardcore offenders, the courts should give more consideration to the underlying substance abuse problem. SN - 0001-4575 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/18329404/High_re_arrest_rates_among_drug_impaired_drivers_despite_zero_tolerance_legislation_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0001-4575(07)00137-6 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -