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Who are the real “first offenders”?. Hollie Wilson, PhD Scholar International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety Oslo, Norway 22 nd -26 th August 2010. CRICOS No. 00213J. Acknowledgements. Supervisory team Em Prof. Mary Sheehan Dr. Gavan Palk Funding

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Who are the real “first offenders”?

Hollie Wilson, PhD Scholar

International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety

Oslo, Norway 22nd-26th August 2010

CRICOS No. 00213J


  • Supervisory team

    • Em Prof. Mary Sheehan

    • Dr. Gavan Palk

  • Funding

    • Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)

    • Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q)

Overview of presentation
Overview of presentation

  • Drink driving: Australian & Queensland contexts

  • Offender characteristics

  • First offender characteristics

  • Research aims

  • Methodology

  • Sample characteristics

  • Results

  • Limitations

  • Policy & countermeasure implications

Drink driving australian context
Drink Driving: Australian Context

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2008) found:

  • One in eight people (12.1%) admit to driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, with males (16.2%) more than twice as likely as females (8.0%) to admit to engaging in drink driving

    According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009):

  • In 2007/2008, there were 63,731 drink driving cases heard by a magistrate.

CRICOS No. 00213J

Drink driving queensland context
Drink Driving: Queensland Context

  • A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.05% was noted in 33% of all driver and rider fatalities tested in Queensland in 2003.

    So, what are the characteristics of drink driving offenders?

All offender characteristics
All Offender Characteristics

Leal et al., (2006) found that offenders were:

  • Male, under 35

  • Holder of provisional or open licence (but, novice drivers who have a no alcohol restriction are over-represented)

  • Self report drink driving at least once in the last 6 months

  • Average BAC of 0.1

    But what are the characteristics of ‘first offenders’?

First offender characteristics
First offender characteristics

  • Not a lot is known about this group in Australia

  • Largest group of drink driving offenders (approx. 75%)

  • 15% go on to become repeat offenders in a 3 year period

  • May be heterogeneous group

    How many of these offenders are simply ‘first time caught?’

Research aims
Research aims

  • Overall objective:- Determine the characteristics of first time drink driving offenders in Queensland.

  • Study aims:-

    • Determine by self report whether ‘first offenders’ are simply ‘first time caught’.

    • Identify key variables to determine what factors are significantly associated with past drink driving in the first offender group.

    • Identify, if any, significant predictors of past drink driving.

Study methodology
Study methodology

  • Offenders interviewed in court directly following index offence –

    • Brisbane (Metropolitan - 168 offenders)

    • Maroochydore (Regional - 33 offenders)

  • Interview schedule –

    • Demographic characteristics

    • Offence information

    • Drink driving history

    • Alcohol use (AUDIT)

  • Sample characteristics
    Sample characteristics

    • Offenders in the sample:

      • Male (74%)

      • Average age of 29 (SD=9.93)

      • Single (71%)

      • Education (80% at least secondary school)

      • Employed (76%)

      • Experienced drivers (50% over 10 years)

      • Apprehended by random breath testing (RBT) (70%)

      • Risky drinkers (80%)

        And as predicted... ‘first time caught’

    *p <.05 offence

    *p <. offence001

    Logistic regression
    Logistic Regression groups

    • Risky drinkers were 4.6 times more likely to report drink driving in the 6 months prior to the offence than non risky drinkers*.

    • Other offender characteristics were not significant.

    *(CI 95%)

    Summary of findings
    Summary of findings groups

    • Risky drinking and age were significantly associated with past reported drink driving in bivariate analyses.

    • Risky drinkers were almost 5 times as likely to engage in drink driving in the six months prior to the offence.

    Limitations groups

    • Preliminary results of a very small part of initial research – more research to follow!

  • Self report measures

  • Sample characteristics

    • Educated

  • Number of offenders

  • Time frame

    • 5 year recidivist classification

  • Research directions
    Research Directions groups

    • Follow-up offenders (phone/web based)

    • Queensland Transport crash/offence data for study participants

    • Design an intervention program (computer based) specifically for first offenders

    Policy countermeasure implications
    Policy & Countermeasure Implications groups

    • Education and rehabilitation programs relating to drink driving

      • Targeting risky drinkers

      • Brief intervention

      • Legislative reform which allows for all offenders to take part in targeted rehabilitation

    Questions? groups

    [email protected]

    Mark your Diaries!

    International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety Conference (T2013)

    August 2013, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre