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Accid Anal Prev. 2015 Jul;80:106-16. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2015.04.005. Epub 2015 Apr 17.

Legal consequences for alcohol-impaired drivers injured in motor vehicle collisions: A systematic review.

Author information

1
Department of Critical Care Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada; Department of Emergency Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada; Trauma Nova Scotia, Halifax, NS, Canada. Electronic address: greenrs@dal.ca.
2
Division of Neurosurgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada. Electronic address: Nelofar.Kureshi@cdha.nshealth.ca.
3
Trauma Nova Scotia, Halifax, NS, Canada. Electronic address: Mete.Erdogan@cdha.nshealth.ca.

Abstract

The treatment of alcohol-impaired drivers injured in a motor vehicle collision (MVC) is a complex public health issue. We conducted a systematic review to describe the legal consequences for alcohol-impaired drivers injured in a MVC and taken to a hospital or trauma center. Methods We searched MEDLINE, Embase, and CINAHL databases from inception until August 2014. We included studies that reported legal consequences including charges or convictions of injured drivers taken to a hospital or trauma center after a MVC with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeding the legal limit.Results Twenty-six studies met inclusion criteria; twenty studies were conducted in the USA, five in Canada, and one in Sweden. All were cohort studies (23 retrospective, 3 prospective) and included 11,409 patients overall. A total of 5,127 drivers had a BAC exceeding the legal limit, with legal consequences reported in 4937 cases. The median overall DUI/DWI conviction rate was 13% (range 0-85%). The median percentage of drivers with a previous conviction on their record for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) was 15.5% (range 6-40%). The median percentage of drivers convicted again for DUI/DWI during the study period was 3.5% (range 2-10%). Heterogeneity between study designs, legal jurisdictions, institutional procedures and policies for obtaining a legally admissible BAC measurement precluded a meta-analysis. Conclusions The majority of intoxicated drivers injured in MVCs and seen in the emergency department are never charged or convicted. A substantial proportion of injured intoxicated drivers had more than one conviction for DUI/DWI on their police record.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol; Drivers; Hospital; Legal; Outcomes; Trauma

PMID:
25899058
DOI:
10.1016/j.aap.2015.04.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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