Drink-driving and recidivism in NSW


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Release Date: 9 December 2009, Embargo: 10.30am

New research by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has shown that 15.5 per cent of drink-drivers return to court for another drink-driving offence within five years.

Somewhat surprisingly, there is no relationship between the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) band in which an offender fell and their subsequent risk of reconviction for a drink-driving offence.

These are two of the main findings to emerge from a study of 23,373 offenders convicted of a drink driving offence in 2002 and followed up by the Bureau for a period of five years.

One of the strongest predictors of the likelihood of a further drink-driving offence is the offender's prior criminal record. Whereas 14 per cent of drink drivers with no prior convictions in the five years prior to their 2002 PCA offence were reconvicted of another drink-driving offence within five years, the corresponding figure for offenders with two or more prior convictions was 21 per cent.

Reconviction rates are higher among men (16.6 per cent v 9.7 per cent for women), Indigenous offenders (23.9 per cent v 15.4 per cent for non-Indigenous offenders), offenders aged less than 25 years (18.3 per cent v 8.5 per cent for offenders who are 55 and over), offenders who live in areas with the highest level of socio-economic disadvantage (17.1 per cent v 13.9 per cent for those who live in areas of the lowest disadvantage).

The highest risk offender is a male Indigenous offender aged less than 25 living in an area of high disadvantage; who has two prior convictions and received a one to six month licence disqualification for their 2002 PCA offence.

It is estimated that, within five years of their index offence, more than a third (35.5%) of drivers with these characteristics will be reconvicted of another drink-driving offence, and nearly half (49%) will be reconvicted for a driving licence, a motor vehicle registration or a motor vehicle roadworthiness offence.

Offenders who received a licence disqualification of 13 months or more were less likely to be reconvicted of a drink driving offence than those who did not receive licence disqualification as a penalty.

For reasons that remain unclear, however, those with shorter licence disqualification periods were more likely to be re-convicted for another drink driving, driving licence, motor vehicle registration or motor vehicle roadworthiness offence than those who did not receive any licence disqualification at all. This outcome may be the result of some extraneous (unmeasured) difference between those given a short disqualification period and those receiving no disqualification at all.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn. Ph.: 9231-9190 or 0419-494-408