A new study by the Journal "Addiction" shows that a large portion of convicted drunk drivers either drank excessively for years prior to the arrest or reverted to destructive, alcohol-consuming behavior even after being convicted. In either case, it appears that simply throwing drunk drivers into jail is not necessarily the best way to handle DUI cases.
There are two reasons for this and the first may not come as a surprise for most. Convicted drunk drivers have a high rate of repeat violations. Suspending their license and giving them harsh punitive treatment does not curb the serious psychological and depressive issues they deal with. Alcoholism is not cured simply by putting someone behind bars.
So, while jailing a DUI offender keeps them off the roads for a while, eventually they will be released and inevitably make it back behind the wheel of the car. And when that happens, the study shows there is a 25% chance the person has reverted back to drinking excessive amount of alcohol and, thus, more at risk to drive drunk.
In addition to the one-quarter of the study's 700 participants (all adults with previous DUI convictions), a further 19% reported a "lifetime" of drinking before their drunk driving offense.
While it is easy to assume that those found guilty of drunk driving should be jailed, research is showing that this is not the best course of action for everybody. There is a serious mental issue at play here that isn't fixed by incarceration. One analyst of DUI criminals believes that the best way to avert future DUIs (and to really treat the issue of drunk driving), convicted DUI offenders need treatment -- not jail.
Source: Reuters, "Drunk drivers show risky lifetime drinking habits - study," June 22, 2012