Repeat drunk drivers represent at least one third of all DUI arrests and likely contribute to consistent rates of DUI deaths and injuries on our nation’s highways. These statistics emphasize the need to identify and address the factors that influence DUI recidivism. More and more research has identified the fact that repeat DUI offenders often suffer from a number of disorders. In one study, in addition to lifetime alcohol disorder, 41% of the participants had an additional drug-related disorder and 44% had a major mental disorder that was not alcohol or drug-related (Shaffer et al., 2007). However, treatment for DUI offenders, which has been part of the criminal justice system for more than 30 years, most commonly consists of alcohol education and possibly some form of alcohol treatment only.
Therefore, the Division on Addictions at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and The Century Council have begun work on a project to expand and test a Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) for use with a structured diagnostic mental health assessment in DUI treatment settings. Already piloted with support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the project will examine the relationship between psychiatric profiles and repeat drunk driving offenders. Further, the project will refine the report generator and expand its capabilities, implement it at several DUI offender treatment sites, and conduct multiple studies including a randomized clinical trial, to assess the usability of CARS among treatment professionals and clients, and the efficacy of the tool as a brief intervention.