Principal Investigator: Tara Kelley-Baker
Sponsor: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
(8/1/2005 - 6/30/2008) Proposal Abstract
After a I5-year decline, alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities are increasing. Researchers and advocates are searching to understand why this reversal has occurred and to identify solutions. This proposed research examines one possible contributing factor: refusal of driving-under-the influence (DUI) suspects to submit to chemical tests of their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Drunk-driving convictions largely are dependent on BAC evidence. Yet, state BAC refusal rates range from 5% to 85%. The absence of BAC evidence complicates prosecution for impaired driving, thus providing considerable incentive for offenders to refuse the BAC test. The proposed study involves a secondary analysis of the driver license records from 16 states covering a third of all DUI offenders in the nation to determine the importance of refusal to avoid conviction and to offender recidivism. It will also investigate whether refusals are increasing and the characteristics of those that refuse the test and the affect of laws which penalize test refusal. The results of the study will be useful to state policymakers who face federal legislation that provides incentives for states to increase the severity of the penalties for refusal.