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Original Contribution
April 10, 1967

Identification of Problem Drinking Among Drunken Drivers

Author Affiliations

From the Bureau of Occupational Health, California Department of Public Health. Dr. Waller is now with the Bureau of Chronic Diseases.

JAMA. 1967;200(2):114-120. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120150070010

Information about previous contact with community agencies, particularly contact involving drinking problems, was compared for 150 drunken drivers, 33 accident-involved drivers who had been drinking but were not arrested, 117 sober drivers involved in accidents, 131 drivers with moving violations, 19 drivers with citations plus arrest warrants, and 150 incident-free drivers. Screening criteria for problem drinkers were two or more previous arrests involving drinking or identification by a community agency as a problem drinker. These criteria were met by the following: drunken drivers, 63%; drivers with an accident after drinking, 50%; drivers with warrants, 30%; nondrinking drivers with an accident, 14%; persons with driving violations, 8%; and drivers with no incidents, 3%. High correlation was found between two or more arrests involving drinking and an impression of problem drinking. Eighty-seven percent of the drunken drivers were known to community agencies, most with multiple contacts starting before age 30.