Repeat DUI Offenders May Have Mental Disorders

A study has found that drivers with repeat convictions for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated may have additional concerns. The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) discovered that nearly 60 percent of people with two or more DUI arrests were also prone to having bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The three-year study involved people who had incurred at least two DUI offenses within a ten- year period. Forty percent of the study participants had three of more drunk driving or drug impaired arrests. In addition to alcoholism and drug dependency, the majority of both men and women were found to have at least one psychiatric disorder. Women were more likely than men to suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

All participants volunteered to be in the study, and they received reduced jail time in exchange for agreeing to strict probation, close monitoring and a series of rewards and punishments.

The results indicate that court evaluations of DUI cases should consider psychiatric screening, and that addressing mental health during alcohol treatment may reduce the likelihood of another offense.

"People who deal with drug and alcohol abusers need to understand there are often other disorders that need to be dealt with as well," said Sandra Lapham, director of the PIRE Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico and lead of the study. "That’s why we need to screen repeat offenders for multiple disorders.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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