Emory University Evaluation
Georgia DUI Alcohol/Drug
Risk Reduction Program:
Fiscal Years 1992-1996
October 27, 1997
Frederick A. Marsteller, Ph.D.
Deborah Rolka, M.S.
Arthur Falek, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry
Emory University School of Medicine
In 1990, the DUI Alcohol and Drug Risk Reduction Program (RRP) was introduced
after authority for mandatory educational intervention for DUI offenders
was transferred to the Georgia Department of Human Resources. The
RRP represented a significant departure from past practice. The program
includes a standardized assessment of alcohol and drug problems and a standardized
curriculum that is designed as an early intervention to reduce major alcohol
and drug problems.
Since 1991, investigators from the Department of Psychiatry of
the Emory University School of Medicine have been conducting a series of
studies designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the RRP. This report
summarizes the major findings from those studies.
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During the period during which subjects were being added to the study (Fiscal
Years 1992-1995) 230,691 offenders were convicted of a total of 276,712
Relative to the 4,489,709 active licenses on July 1, 1996, offenders comprise
5.1% and multiple offenders comprise 2.4% of the estimated driving population.
Although all DUI offenders are required to attend the RRP for license reinstatement,
only 58.3% of offenders do so without an intervening recidivism.
64.7% of lifetime first offenders, 58.9% of offenders with a prior more
than five years before their reference, and 45.4% of offenders with multiple
offences within five years filed certificates of RRP completion.
The offenders who do not attend the program recidivate at twice the rate
of those who attend (27.1% vs. 13.5%). It is not possible for us
to determine how much of this very large difference is due to the effects
of the RRP and how much is due to factors that differentiate people in
the compliant and non-compliant populations.
Of 134,607 people with certificates, 17,833 (13.2%) were legally repeat
offenders (i.e. had a DUI within five years prior to the reference DUI.)
The DUI offenders are predominantly male (79.9%) and are younger than the
general driving-age population of Georgia.
The prevalence of serious alcohol related problems is extremely high in
this population: 53% of offenders who complete the SALCE assessment have
summary scores in a range indicating a need for clinical referral.
42% of first offenders would be referred for clinical treatment.
75% of offenders with most recent offenses more than five years ago would
84% of offenders with prior offences within five years of arrest (legally
repeat-offenders) would be referred.
The most important predictors of recidivism among those completing the
RRP were number of lifetime moving violations, BAC at arrest, prior DUIs
and SALCE assessment scores.
Evaluation of responses to questionnaires administered to students before
class, after class and at various follow-up periods indicate that the TAAD
curriculum is generally effective in meeting its objectives -- the students
learn what they are intended to and many reported significant reductions
in alcohol use for extended periods after class.
These same surveys support the validity of the SALCE assessment -- agreement
between SALCE scores and our clinically oriented questions is good.
Furthermore, the SALCE has demonstrated predictive validity -- SALCE summary
scores are associated with a person's risk of recidivism.
Although severity of alcohol problems is an important determinant of continued
impaired driving by DUI offenders, recidivism is even more strongly associated
with driving record, specifically moving violations and arrest BAC.
We believe that these measures reflect important additional components
to the risk for recidivism, namely history of driving while extremely impaired
and a propensity for being apprehended for traffic violations -- both of
which may measure a personís likelihood of being caught again, rather
than for continued impaired driving.
Despite the positive effects of the TAAD curriculum, a large proportion
of offenders who attend the RRP continue to drive while impaired, as evidenced
by their 13.5% recidivism rate.
It is our opinion that the effectiveness of the RRP, although generally
good, could be improved by more directly addressing the issue of very high
rates of alcohol dependence among DUI offenders. During the recently
completed legislative session, modifications to the DUI statutes have added
a requirement of treatment for some multiple offenders. If this requirement
succeeds in reducing recidivism among multiple offenders, it might beneficially
be extended to all offenders.
Among DUI offenders with multiple lifetime DUI convictions in Georgia,
the two-year recidivism rate of those with a prior DUI within a five years
of their reference was significantly lower than the two-year recidivism
rate of repeat offenders with a most recent prior DUI more than five years
before the reference arrest. Under current law, a person who receives
three DUIs within a 5-year period can be declared a Habitual Violator.
The severe licensing penalties placed on Habitual Violators may serve as
a deterrent to recidivism among offenders with two offences within five
years resulting in the difference described above. If this is the
case, increasing or eliminating the period of time over which DUIs "age-off"
may further reduce recidivism among repeat offenders.
Finally, the RRP can only have a positive impact in reducing impaired driving
by DUI offenders if those who are required to attend it actually do.
The extremely high non-compliance rates among those required to attend
the RRP indicate a major need for legislative and/or enforcement attention.