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Drunk Driving and the Prediction of Analogous Behavior: A Longitudinal Test of Social Learning and Self-Control Theories

NCJ Number
Victims & Offenders Volume: 2 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 327-349
L. Thomas Winfree Jr.; Dennis M. Giever; James R. Maupin; G. Larry Mays
Date Published
October 2007
23 pages
This article examines drunk driving data to predict status as an alcoholic, self-reported misconduct, and subsequent criminal conduct.
Drunk driving assumed near pandemic proportions in the 1980s, and State legislatures rushed to control it throughout the 1990slargely with increased surveillance, apprehension, and punishment, key elements in a deterrence model. Early in the 21st century, researchers and policymakers suggested that deterrence models poorly served us in the control of drunk drivers. Policymakers needed better insights into the social psychology of chronic drunk drivers. In their general theory of crime, Gottfredson and Hirschi describe the propensity of low self-control persons to exhibit a higher propensity for crime and analogous behavior relative to persons with higher levels of self-control. Akers's social learning theory emphasizes the various mechanisms by which the motives, orientations, and methods of crime and delinquency are learned and reinforced. The study used data collected as part of an assessment of a municipal court drug-treatment program to explore the ability of variables taken from both theories to predict status as an alcoholic, self-reported misconduct, and subsequent criminal conduct. The authors followed the program's 110 drunk drivers for at least 6 months after sentencing. The authors found that with respect to status as an alcoholic and reconviction status, age (i.e., being older) and levels of self-reported misbehavior (i.e., higher levels of self-reported criminal activity) are the most crucial factors. In terms of the theoretical variables, only differential associations play a significant role in the analyses; further, this role appears to be indirect, through the level of self-reported misbehavior. (Published Abstract)