[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Views 1,818
Citations 0
Original Investigation
Firearm Violence
September 30, 2019

Association of Prior Convictions for Driving Under the Influence With Risk of Subsequent Arrest for Violent Crimes Among Handgun Purchasers

Author Affiliations
  • 1Violence Prevention Research Program, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, Davis
  • 2Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, Sacramento
  • 3Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, Davis
  • 4Department of Population Health, New York University, New York
  • 5Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Berkeley, California
  • 6Stanford Law School, Stanford University, Stanford, California
  • 7Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California
JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 30, 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.4491
Key Points

Question  Are prior convictions for driving under the influence associated with the risk of subsequent arrest for a violent crime among legal purchasers of handguns?

Findings  In this longitudinal cohort study of 79 678 handgun purchasers in California, 9% of the purchasers with prior convictions for driving under the influence and 2% of the purchasers with no prior criminal history were subsequently arrested for murder, rape, robbery, or aggravated assault during the 13 years of follow-up.

Meaning  This study’s findings suggest that prior convictions for driving under the influence may be associated with the risk of subsequent arrest for a violent crime among legal purchasers of handguns.


Importance  Alcohol use is a risk factor for firearm-related violence, and firearm owners are more likely than others to report risky drinking behaviors.

Objective  To study the association between prior convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) and risk of subsequent arrest for violent crimes among handgun purchasers.

Design  In this retrospective, longitudinal cohort study, 79 678 individuals were followed up from their first handgun purchase in 2001 through 2013. The study cohort included all legally authorized handgun purchasers in California aged 21 to 49 years at the time of purchase in 2001. Individuals were identified using the California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) database, which retains information on all legal handgun transfers in the state.

Exposures  The primary exposure was DUI conviction prior to the first handgun purchase in 2001, as recorded in the CA DOJ Criminal History Information System.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Prespecified outcomes included arrests for violent crimes listed in the Crime Index published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), firearm-related violent crimes, and any violent crimes.

Results  Of the study population (N=79 678), 91.0% were males and 68.9% were white individuals; the median age was 34 (range, 21-49) years. The analytic sample for multivariable models included 78 878 purchasers after exclusions. Compared with purchasers who had no prior criminal history, those with prior DUI convictions and no other criminal history were at increased risk of arrest for a Crime Index–listed violent crime (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 2.6; 95% CI, 1.7-4.1), a firearm-related violent crime (AHR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.3-6.4), and any violent crime (AHR, 3.3; 95% CI, 2.4-4.5). Among purchasers with a history of arrests or convictions for crimes other than DUI, associations specifically with DUI conviction remained.

Conclusions and Relevance  This study’s findings suggest that prior DUI convictions may be associated with the risk of subsequent violence, including firearm-related violence, among legal purchasers of handguns. Although the magnitude was diminished, the risk associated with DUI conviction remained elevated even among those with a history of arrests or convictions for crimes of other types.

Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words
    1 Comment for this article
    Question on Homicide Numbers - Disagreement with Other Government Sources
    Matt Carden, Not Listed | Law Enforcement/Security Field
    All though the CDC lists 14,542 Homicides with firearms in the United States in the year 2017, the FBI lists 10,982 Homicides with firearms during 2017. Even assuming every additional homicide listed as "Other Weapon/Weapon Not Stated," (979) is actually a firearm homicide, there remains a difference of 2581. Should we assume that the CDC data includes Justifiable Homicide by a law enforcement officer (429 with firearms) and Justifiable Homicide by a civilian (299 with firearms) there remains a difference of 1865 homicides (The CDC number of 14542 specifically excludes "legal intervention") . This indicates the CDC data lists 14.7% more homicides (including all justified, non-justified and "weapon not listed") than the FBI. If one only focuses on homicides and excludes "self-defense" or "justifiable homicide" the CDC data lists 32.4% more homicides Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States highest law enforcement agency.

    This represents a very large and significant difference between the data sets- CDC numbers vs. FBI. I will not argue which data set is correct, except to say that the focus of the FBI is on crime and homicide is arguably the most serious crime one can commit on another person or persons; whereas the CDC's focus is on disease and its prevention.

    Although the differences between CDC and FBI data may not be specifically relevant to the final outcome of this study or to the data presented in the article, finding such a glaring difference in data in the first sentence immediately causes one to question the balance of the data presented.

    Sources for comment- all accessed October 3, 2019:
    FBI Expanded Homicide Data Table 8 (murder victims by weapon 2013-2017)

    FBI Expanded Homicide Data Table 14 (justifiable homicide by weapon, law enforcement, 2013-2017)

    FBI Expanded Homicide Data Table 15 (justifiable homicide by weapon, private citizen, 2013-2017)

    CDC WISQARS Inquiry