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Identifying Potential Drinking-Driving Recidivists: Do Non-Obvious Indicators Help?

This study focused on the screening process of the New York State Drinking Driver Program (DDP). Screening procedures generally use measures that directly assess problems with alcohol and/ or drugs. One of the problems with alcohol-specific measures, like the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST: Selzer, 1971) is that only individuals willing to identify themselves as having a problem are likely to be detected. Vingilis (1983) noted that DWI offenders may be unwilling to answer the direct questions truthfully, since they understand that by admitting to problems they will be mandated to treatment. Because of this falsification, individuals who are in the early stages of alcohol or drug problems, or those individuals who are trying to avoid detection will be missed (Babor, 1993; Saunders, Phic, & Kershaw, 1980). Since the literature indicates that appropriate treatment of drinking-drivers can result in reduced risk (Wells-Parker, Bangert-Drowns, McMillen, & Williams, 1995; Wieczorek, 1995), one result of the misidentification that may occur through the use of direct screening measures is increased drinking-driving recidivism and alcohol/drug-related crash rates.