Laws and enforcement programs have been implemented to increase the certainty, swiftness, and severity of punishments for drinking and driving. Certainty of punishment may be the most important deterrent to drinking and driving among the general population. Researchers, however, have not fully evaluated deterrent effects among young drivers. We examined effects of perceived certainty and severity on alcohol-impaired driving among 8909 high school seniors in 15 upper Midwest communities. We also examined gender differences and binge drinking as they relate to drinking and driving. Mixed-model regression analyses were conducted using a repeated cross-sectional design. Male gender and binge drinking during the past two weeks were significantly associated with drinking and driving. Significant interactions were found between binge drinking and perceived certainty of punishment. Binge drinkers who perceived high certainty of punishment were less likely to drink and drive. Among non-binge drinkers, perceived certainty did not have a deterrent effect.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention under grant R01 AA90142; Alexander C. Wagenaar, Principal Investigator.