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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 51 (2009) 1, 9 - 19

New research

Psychiatric research of the ability to drive after driving under influence of alcohol: offender characteristic description and recommendations for prevention

I. Mekking-Pompen, D.P. Ravelli, H. Nijman

background Driving under influence of alcohol is very likely to lead to traffic accidents. Nowadays, fewer people are driving under influence of alcohol, probably because of law enforcement and information campaigns: however, the number of serious offenders (alcohol blood level > 1,3 ‰ upon arrest) and recidivists is on the increase. These serious offenders and recidivists are obliged to submit to an examination by a psychiatrist.
aim To determine the characteristics of the serious offenders and recidivists who have to be examined by a psychiatrist and to improve current preventive measures.
method By studying the files of 101 offenders, we had access to personal characteristics, circumstances of the arrest, alcohol anamnesis, laboratory research results, and to physical and psychiatric research and results. By means of descriptive statistics we were able to identify characteristics of the group and, where possible, to compare these with the characteristics of the general population.
results The group consisted mainly of men aged about 40 from the lower social classes who had been arrested for their deviant driving behaviour or for causing traffic accidents. Of these persons 92% were alcohol abusers or were alcohol dependent and, fairly often, had comorbid psychiatric problems as well.
conclusion Preventive measures can be further improved by an increase in social control, more rapid detection of deviant driving behaviour, appropriate and prompt treatment of alcohol problems and comorbidity associated with such problems.

keywords alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, driving under the influence, prevention