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Arrested drunk drivers : trends, social background, recidivism and mortality. Doctoral dissertation University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Hjelt Institute, Public Health.
20121721 ST [electronic version only]
Impinen, A.
Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Hjelt Institute, Public Health / National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Department of Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction, 2011, 82 p., 154 ref.; National Institute for Health and Welfare ; Research 63 - ISSN 1798-0054 (printed) / ISSN 1798-0062 (pdf) / ISBN 978-952-245-470-6 (printed) / ISBN 978-952-245-471-3 (pdf)

Samenvatting The aim of this study was to examine the trends, incidence and recidivism of drunken driving during a 20-year period (1988 - 2007) using the data on all suspected drunken driving in this period. Furthermore, the association between social background and drunken driving, and the mortality of drunk drivers were studied by using administrative register data provided by Statistics Finland. The study was completely register-based. In 1989 - 1991, every year 30,000 drivers were suspected of drunken driving, but the number fell to less than 20,000 by 1994, during the economic recession. The changes in the arrest incidence of the youngest age groups were especially pronounced, most of all in the age group of 18 - 19-year olds. Even though the incidence among youth decreased dramatically, their incidence rate was still twice that of the general population aged 15 - 84 years. Drunken driving was associated with a poor social background among youth and working-aged men and women. For example, a low level of education, unemployment, divorce, and parental factors in youth were associated with a higher risk of being arrested for drunken driving. While a low income was related to more drunken driving among working-aged people, the effect among young persons was the opposite. Every third drunk driver got rearrested during a 15-year period, whereas the estimated rearrest rate was 44%. Findings of drugs only or in combination with alcohol increased the risk of rearrest. The highest rearrest rates were seen among drivers who were under the influence of amphetamines or cannabis. Also male gender, young age, high blood alcohol concentration, and arrest during weekdays and in the daytime predicted rearrest. When compared to the general population, arrested drunk drivers had significant excess mortality. The greatest relative differences were seen in alcohol-related causes of death (including alcohol diseases and alcohol poisoning), accidents, suicides and violence. Also mortality due to other than alcohol-related diseases was elevated among drunk drivers. Drunken driving was associated with multiple factors linked to traffic safety, health and social problems. Social marginalization may expose a person to harmful use of alcohol and drunken driving, and the associations are seen already among the youth. Recidivism is common among drunk drivers, and driving under the influence of illicit and/or medicinal drugs is likely to indicate worse substance abuse problems, judging from the high rearrest rates. High alcohol-related mortality in this population shows that drunken driving is clearly an indicator of alcohol abuse. More effective measures of preventing alcohol-related harms are needed, than merely preventing convicted drunk drivers from driving again. (Author/publisher)
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