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Effects of administrative ignition interlock license restrictions on drivers with multiple alcohol offenses

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Abstract

This study investigated, under real-world conditions, whether a statewide 2-year administrative ignition interlock license restriction program in Maryland was effective in reducing subsequent alcohol-related traffic violations among multiple offenders and whether any reductions in recidivism could be maintained after the program ended and interlock license restrictions were removed. A total of 1,927 drivers eligible for relicensure were randomly assigned to either the 2-year interlock license restriction program or the normal and customary sanctions afforded multiple offenders in Maryland. Recidivism was defined as incurring a subsequent alcohol-impaired driving violation during the 2-year intervention or 2-year postintervention periods. Compared to the control group, participation in the interlock license restriction program reduced drivers’ hazard (or risk) of a subsequent alcohol-impaired driving offense by a statistically significant 36% during the 2-year intervention, 26% during the 2-year postintervention period, and 32% during the entire 4-year study period. This investigation of interlock program effectiveness is the first to report significantly lower recidivism among the interlock group than its control group after the ignition interlock license restriction program ended. Possible reasons for this novel finding and areas for future research are discussed.

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Notes

  1. This estimate was generated by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of October 22, 2009.

  2. Drivers in the control group were enrolled in the state’s Drinking Driver Monitor Program (DDMP) and were monitored by probation officers for compliance with relicensure requirements and sobriety. Probation under DDMP included adherence to conditions of relicensure such as participation in treatment or self-help meetings and regular breath testing.

  3. If an employer required a driver (assigned to the interlock group) to drive a company vehicle during the course of employment, the driver could apply for an employer-vehicle exemption waiver, which may or may not have been approved by the MVA.

  4. The Maryland MVA does not assess whether drivers are Hispanic.

  5. Participants differed slightly in the time they spent in their respective intervention, postintervention, and overall study periods. Therefore, the 2-year and 4-year labels for the three study periods are approximate averages used for convenience in describing the period of interest.

  6. The authors are investigating the influence on recidivism of self-selection into the five subgroups.

  7. These reductions were calculated by dividing 1.00 by the hazard ratio for the control group (which is tantamount to using the negative regression coefficient of the assignment-status flag).

  8. Oddly, the Florida program requires that vehicle ignitions block drivers from starting their cars when their BAC levels are at .051 and higher. This level is considerably higher than the .025 BAC recommended by the NHTSA and specified by most states, including Maryland. In this respect, Florida’s law is not draconian because drivers can drink some alcohol and still legally drive their interlock-equipped vehicles.

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by Contract DTNH22-97-C-05121 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Grant R01 AA11897 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or polices of the funding agencies. The authors would like to thank the Editor and three anonymous reviewers for insightful comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Eileen M. Ahlin.

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Table 6

Table 6 Events (alcohol-related violations) by intervention period*

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Rauch, W.J., Ahlin, E.M., Zador, P.L. et al. Effects of administrative ignition interlock license restrictions on drivers with multiple alcohol offenses. J Exp Criminol 7, 127–148 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-010-9118-0

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