The effects of licence disqualification on drink-drivers: Is it the same for everyone?


Drink-driving remains a major road safety concern that creates a significant social burden. Licence disqualification continues to play a key role in drink driving deterrence and sanctions together with police enforcement to address the problem in most motorised countries. However, on-going questions remain regarding the differing effect of licence disqualification periods between first time and repeat offenders, and between other sub-groups of offenders. As a result, this study aimed to determine whether: (a) differences exist in re-offence rates of convicted drink-drivers between: the period between committing the drink-driving offence and licence disqualification (pre-licence disqualification), during the period of licence disqualification, and after being re-licensed (post-licence restoration); and (b) differential effects of offence rates are evident based on Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), gender, age, repeat offender status and crash involvement at the time of offence. The sample consisted of 29,204 drink-driving offenders detected in Victoria, Australia between 1 January 1996 and 30 September 2002. The analysis indicated that licence disqualifications were effective as drink-driving offenders had a significantly lower rate of offending (both drink-driving and other traffic offences) during licence disqualifications compared to pre-licence disqualification and post-licence restoration periods. The influence of licence disqualification appeared to extend beyond the disqualification period, as offence rates were lower during post-licence restoration than during pre-licence disqualification. Interestingly, the highest rate of offending (both for drink-driving and other traffic offences) was during the pre-licence disqualification period, which suggests offenders are particularly vulnerable to drink and drive while waiting to be sanctioned. A consistent pattern of results was evident across genders and age groups. Additionally, those who were involved in a crash at the same time as their index offence had lower offence rates (compared to those who were not involved in a crash) for all periods, although for general traffic offences, the offence rate was highest in the post-licence restoration period for those who had a crash at index offence. This indicates that being involved in a crash may deter these offenders, at least in the short-term. The implications of the results for managing both first time and repeat offenders are discussed.

Accident Analysis & Prevention