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Ann Emerg Med. 1998 Sep;32(3 Pt 1):349-52.

Injured intoxicated drivers: citation, conviction, referral, and recidivism rates.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, MetroHealth Medical Center/Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44109, USA.



Several studies have suggested that legally intoxicated drivers who are injured when involved in a motor vehicle crash are unlikely to be cited or prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI). The purpose of this study was to determine (1) the rates of citation and prosecution of legally intoxicated drivers who are injured in a motor vehicle crash and hospitalized in a Level I trauma center, (2) the rates of previous and subsequent alcohol-related citation in this population, and (3) the rate of referral for treatment of alcohol-related problems made during the hospital stay.


In a retrospective review of trauma registry and Cleveland Municipal Court records from January 1993 through April 1995, we examined the records of all drivers injured in a motor vehicle crash who were transported to a Level I urban trauma center, admitted to the trauma service, and determined to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10 gm% or higher at the time of admission to the emergency department.


Seventy drivers admitted after a motor vehicle crash had a BAC of .10 gm% or higher. This represented 33% of the drivers older than 16 years of age who were admitted to the trauma service. Twenty-three drivers (32.8%) were cited for DUI, and 15 (21%) of the 70 were successfully prosecuted and convicted. Four of 23 cited drivers had previous citations; another 5 incurred subsequent citations during the study period. Eight of the 70 drivers who were admitted with a high BAC were referred for outpatient alcohol counseling after discharge. None were offered counseling as inpatients.


Citation and prosecution rates of legally intoxicated drivers injured in motor vehicle crashes and hospitalized in our trauma center were low. Recognition of alcoholism and inpatient counseling were rare. Multiple alcohol-related citations were common among drivers cited for DUI.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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