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EU ALCOLOCK PROGRAMS FOR DUI-OFFENDERS. Factors influencing implementation, participation and compliance Results of a literature review Funded by the European Commission. René Mathijssen SWOV, The Netherlands www.swov.nl.

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eu alcolock programs for dui offenders

EU ALCOLOCK PROGRAMS FOR DUI-OFFENDERS

Factors influencing implementation, participation and compliance

Results of a literature review

Funded by the European Commission

René Mathijssen

SWOV, The Netherlands

www.swov.nl

most important factors determining the effectiveness of alcolock programs
Most important factors determining the effectiveness of alcolock programs
  • Implementation: a government’s decision to introduce alcolock programs.
  • Participation: participation rate by drink-driving offenders.
  • Compliance: compliance of alcolock program participants with the conditions of the program (during and after alcolock installation).
factors influencing implementation of alcolock programs for dui offenders
Factors influencing implementation of alcolock programs for DUI-offenders
  • Proven effectiveness
    • Uncertain effectiveness delayed alcolock implementation in Australia (Schonfeld & Sheehan, 2004)
  • Legal barriers
    • In most EU-countries, implementation requires amendment of road traffic laws (Bax et al., 2001)
  • Knowledge gap researchers-policy makers
    • Lack of easy-to-understand research findings (Steward, 2205)
  • Practical issues
    • Maintenance, monitoring and enforcement issues delayed implementation in Australia (Schonfeld & Sheehan, 2004).
  • Cost factors
    • Were an issue with the government of Australia (Schonfeld & Sheehan, 2004).
factors influencing participation a
Factors influencing participation (a)

Conditions for program entrance/continuation:

  • In Sweden, even alcohol-dependent drivers are eligible for program participation, showing a very low re-arrest rate while on the program (Bjerre, 2005).
  • On the other hand, participants have to demonstrate a sober lifestyle after being one year in the program. If they cannot, they are removed from the program.

Result: approx. half of the already low number of participants had to leave the program after one year, immediately showing strongly increased recidivism rates (Bjerre, 2005). This might have been prevented, if continued drinking problems would have been a reason for extended program participation beyond the standard period, instead of removal from the program.

factors influencing participation b
Factors influencing participation (b)

Inconvenience and cost of alcolock programs:

  • In Sweden, the inconvenience of 3-monthly medical checks may have played a deterring role (Bjerre & Bergman, 2004), especially for non-alcohol-dependent offenders.
  • In California (DeYoung, 2002), Australia (Schonfeld & Sheehan, 2004) and Sweden (Bjerre, 2003) alike, the cost of alcolock programs were reported as a barrier for participation. Some jurisdictions tried to solve this problem by:
    • making the cost income-dependent
    • allowing payments by installments
    • funding indigent offenders
    • making participation free of cost
factors influencing participation c
Factors influencing participation (c)

Mandatory vs. voluntary programs:

  • (Hypothesis, not tested) mandatory programs have higher participation rates than voluntary ones (Beirness, 2000).
  • In Canada and the USA, the typical participation rate of voluntary programs was approx. 10% (Beirness & Robertson, 2002), and in Sweden 11% (Bjerre, 2003).
  • In a voluntary program in Illinois, however, the participation rate was 30% (Frank et al., 2000), suggesting that other factors than voluntariness may also play an important role.
  • A 62% participation rate was reported for programs where the only alternatives were incarceration or electronically monitored house arrest (Voas et al., 2002). But this kind of administration of justice will probably not be feasible in EU countries.
factors influencing participation d
Factors influencing participation (d)

Judicial vs. administrative programs:

  • Experiences from California (De Young, 2002) suggest that judicial programs generate lower participation rates than administrative ones, due to:
    • reluctance of courts to order alcolock installation
    • violation of court orders

Willingness of general practitioners to report alcohol-dependent patients:

  • In Sweden, general practitioners reported only one in 1,000 alcohol-dependent patients to the licensing authority (Bjerre et al., 2004).
factors influencing participation e
Factors influencing participation (e)

Car ownership:

  • In California, many drivers who were court-ordered to install an alcolock did not comply, stating they didn’t own a car (DeYoung, 2002)

Technical factors:

  • Favorable factors:
    • Possibility to engage and disengage the alcolock at will
    • Low false alarm rate
    • Ergonomic design
  • Unfavorable factor:
    • Engine immobilization (“unacceptable”)

(Self-reporting by males 17-25 in Australia; Young et al., 2003)

factors influencing participation f
Factors influencing participation (f)

Preceding period of hard suspension:

  • (Hypothesis) participation rates may increase if program participation is not preceded by a lengthy period of hard suspension.
factors influencing compliance
Factors influencing compliance
  • Quality of the monitoring system:
    • De Young (2002) blamed part of the low compliance rate in California to shortcomings of the monitoring system; these shortcomings were due to the fact that the system was time-consuming.
  • Integration of rehabilitation/counseling into alcolock programs:
    • In Alberta, participants of such programs had lower re-offence rates, even after the alcolock was removed (Marques et al., 2000). The effect was limited to first offenders and to the first year after alcolock removal.
    • Recently, a new and better structured program was set up in Texas; the first results were promising (Marques et al., 2004).
recommendations for eu implementation of alcolock programs
Recommendations for EU implementation of alcolock programs
  • Implementation under administrative law; administration by the licensing authority.
  • Mandatory participation; successful completion as a condition for full license reinstatement.
  • Program differentiation (aimed at raising participation):
    • A relatively simple and inexpensive program for first offenders with a relatively low BAC at the time of arrest (supposedly having a moderate recidivism risk).
    • A more elaborate and expensive program including regular medical tests for high-BAC offenders and recidivists (supposedly having a high recidivism risk).
  • Flexible duration of programs, based on monitoring results from data logger and/or from medical checks.
  • No exclusion from the program based upon monitoring results; only in case of repeat drink-driving.
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