Over the last several years the issue of the chronic drinking and driving offender has received increasing scrutiny from the criminal justice system and the community at large. Many states have passed new legislation increasing penalties for this population. Nevertheless, a considerable number of DUI offenders, both chronic and first timers, end up under community supervision. At that point, the issue of treatment interventions becomes a critical decision point.

Historically this offender population is referred for traditional outpatient treatment services. These programs vary in length, intensity and focus. However, questions have been raised about the impact these programs have on recidivism rates. More recently, a study conducted by Thomas and Elizabeth Quinn (The Effect of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy on Driving While Intoxicated Recidivism. Journal of Drug Issues 2015) showed a significant difference in recidivism rates between offenders completing a traditional 12 step based outpatient program and those completing a 16-week CBT program. The rates of recidivism at the 3 year post treatment mark showed a 50% different between the two groups. The CBT group having a recidivism rate of 11% verses a rate of 24% for the standard group. The researchers also noted a reduction in risk score using the LSI-R and a higher degree of treatment satisfaction.

This research points out the importance of matching proven treatment interventions that target recidivism and risk reduction. Intervention and contact by supervising officers should also be considered based on the risk level of the offender. DUI offenders often have a limited criminal history which can place them in lower risk categories. Provided effective treatment matching practices are followed, the contacts by supervising officers can be reduced. In these circumstances using OffenderLink ATR (Automated Telephone Reporting) program can assist officers in efficiently managing this population. We have seen several of our agency clients have success with this approach.

Ken Tomlinson