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Traffic Inj Prev. 2009 Jun;10(3):220-6. doi: 10.1080/15389580902822725.

Substance use as a predictor of driving under the influence (DUI) rearrests. a 15-year retrospective study.

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  • 1National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.



Recidivism is a major problem in the prevention of DUI offenses. It is suggested that impairing substances used by drivers may relate to a higher risk of recidivism. This study aims to determine rearrest rates in different groups of arrested drivers focusing on different substances found in the blood.


The data utilized were obtained from the register of suspected DUI offenders maintained by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Data were available for the 15-year period between 1993 and 2007. The number of rearrests was traced from the individuals' ID codes. The mean blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the DUI offenders was studied as well as their age at the time of the first arrest. Rearrest rates according to alcohol and drug findings were estimated using survival analysis methods.


At the time of the first arrest, the drivers with a single DUI arrest were older and had a lower BAC than those who had a later arrest. The proportion of female drivers decreased as the number of rearrests increased. Drivers with drugs only or a combination of drugs and alcohol had a significantly higher rearrest rate than drivers with alcohol alone. Drivers with amphetamines only had the highest rearrest rates. Findings of benzodiazepine and opioids alone did not increase the risk of rearrest in the long run. Young age, male sex, high blood alcohol level, and arrest during the nighttime and during weekdays constituted a higher risk for rearrest.


A third of those suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are rearrested within 15 years. Drugs, especially amphetamines, are a risk factor for faster rearrest. These results show that the groups at risk of recidivism can be pinpointed. Interventions to prevent recidivism should be developed particularly for drugged drivers. Substance abuse beginning in adolescence seems to be a greater risk.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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