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High re-arrest rates among drug-impaired drivers despite zero-tolerance legislation
Department of Forensic Genetics and Forensic Toxicology National Board of Forensic Medicine, Linköping.
Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Medicine and Care, Clinical Pharmacology.
Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Clinical Pharmacology.
Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Clinical Chemistry.
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2008 (English)In: Accident Analysis and Prevention, ISSN 0001-4575, E-ISSN 1879-2057, Vol. 40, no 2, 534-540 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: A zero-tolerance law for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Sweden led to a 10-fold increase in the number of cases submitted by the police for toxicological analysis. The statutory blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving is 0.2 mg/g (∼0.02 g%). Methods: An in-house database (TOXBASE) was used to investigate re-arrests for impaired driving over 4 years (2001-2004), which comprised 36,799 cases. The age, gender, re-arrest rate of the offenders and the concentrations of ethanol and amphetamine in blood samples were evaluated. Results: We found that 44% of individuals (N = 16,277) re-offended 3.2 times on average (range 1-23 arrests). Between 85 and 89% of first-time offenders were men and there was also a male dominance among the recidivists (88-93%). The mean age of drunken drivers was ∼40 years compared with ∼35 years for driving under the influence of amphetamine, which was the drug identified in 50-60% of DUID cases, either alone or together with other licit or illicit drugs. The median BAC was 1.5 mg/g (∼0.15 g%), which suggests a dominance of heavy drinkers. The median BAC was even higher in recidivists (1.6-1.7 mg/g). The median concentration of amphetamine in blood was 1.0 mg/L in recidivists compared with 0.5 mg/L in the first-time offenders. About 14% of drunken drivers re-offended 1-10 times compared with 68% of DUID suspects, who were re-arrested 1-23 times. People with only a scheduled prescription drug in blood were re-arrested much less frequently (∼17%) compared with those taking illicit drugs (68%). Conclusions: The appreciable increase in number of arrests for DUID after a zero-tolerance law might reflect a heightened enthusiasm by the police authorities armed with knowledge that a prosecution is easier to obtain. Zero-tolerance laws do not deter people from impaired driving judging by the high re-arrest rates. During the sentencing of hardcore offenders, the courts should give more consideration to the underlying substance abuse problem. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 40, no 2, 534-540 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-43512DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2007.08.009Local ID: 74033OAI: diva2:264371
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2012-03-21

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Holmgren, PerKugelberg, FredrikJones, A WayneAhlner, Johan
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