In Missouri, DWI offenses are among the charges included in the state's Abuse and Lose law. The data obtained from Missouri showed that a driver's license action took place in the large majority of these cases (85%), while a licensing action was rarely reported with charges of possession or use of alcohol (16%) or possession or use of a controlled substance (14%). Unfortunately, this resulted in small numbers of cases in the comparison groups. In the most extreme instance, there were only 37 persons charged with possession or use of controlled substances who had undergone a licensing action. The analysis of subsequent traffic violations between those who did or did not undergo license action showed fewer subsequent violations within the suspension group. However, differences were not significant when calculated separately within each of the three charge types.
The Pennsylvania data set proved to be more robust. Almost all of the Use and Lose charges were for purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of alcohol. Unlike Missouri, DWI is not a Use and Lose law charge in Pennsylvania. However, it was found that about one-half of the Use and Lose charges were made in the context of a DWI arrest. That is, the driving records showed a DWI arrest and license action stemming from an arrest on the same date as the arrest on the Use and Lose charge. The other one-half of the cases were not DWI associated. About one-third of all of the cases did not undergo license action.
The Pennsylvania records did not indicate if and when a suspended or revoked license had been reinstated, so the actual term of the license suspension could not be determined. Nominally in the state, DWI carries a 1-year license suspension for a first offense conviction. However, Pennsylvania has an Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition under which the court can order license withdrawal for a period of 1 to 12 months. As noted, a first offense Use and Lose conviction carries a 90 day license suspension or delay in licensing. It is possible, therefore, that some of those undergoing a Use and Lose suspension not associated with a DWI event may actually have been suspended for a longer period than some of those that were associated with DWI. It is most likely, however, that the average suspension length in the DWI associated group was greater than in the Use and Lose suspended group.
The results in Pennsylvania showed that those who underwent a license action were statistically less likely to receive a subsequent traffic violation conviction. The DWI associated group was the least likely to have a subsequent conviction, followed by the Use and Lose and the "other reason" suspended groups, compared to the group that had no driver's license action. Regarding subsequent crashes, the Use and Lose suspended group was the least likely to have a subsequent crash followed by the DWI associated group. The "other reason" suspended group did not differ significantly from the no license action group. These outcomes can be summarized as follows:
Males more so than females, and younger more so than older drivers, were found to have subsequent violations irrespective of license action. No gender differences were found regarding subsequent crashes (OR and HR were not significant). Age differences were not significant in the odds of having a subsequent crash (OR was not significant), but marginally significant in the likelihood of having a first subsequent crash (HR was significant). The outcome regarding violations is consistent with the general view that young males are among the highest risk driver groups. Motor vehicle crashes are relatively rare events compared to traffic violations. The outcomes regarding subsequent crashes are directionally the same as for violations. Whether an unequivocal effect would have been detected if a much larger sample was available remains conjecture, however.
Young persons examined in the present study had been arrested on charges of alcohol and substance abuse, often including DWI. In both states, the majority of these persons had traffic violation convictions prior to the input arrest and a large minority had a previous action taken against their driver's license. Also in Pennsylvania, about one in four had a previous motor vehicle crash.
These circumstances suggest that the study population was a high risk one from the highway safety point of view. The findings in Pennsylvania that license actions taken against this group do lead to fewer subsequent traffic violations and crashes provides additional evidence that the withdrawal of driving privileges is an effective driver control measure. While the study findings do not comment on the possible deterrent effects of Use and Lose laws on substance abuse by young persons, the application of license actions do lead to fewer subsequent traffic violations and crashes by this high risk group.