Safety Concerns Associated with Drug-Using Drivers with Suspended or Revoked Driving Licenses

The problem of driving with a suspended or revoked license is linked in both research and policy with driving under the influence. While driving under the influence (DUI) has reportedly reached a plateau in recent years, driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) is a growing problem. Research suggests that drivers who are DUID are more likely to continue the behavior compared to drivers who have been arrested for DUI. The problem of DUID is further exacerbated by limitations on the ability of law enforcement to make a determination of DUID using enforcement methods, such as roadblocks and breathalyzer analysis that have been used successfully for deterrence of drinking alcohol and driving. The assessment of DUID requires sophisticated blood tests which are not readily available for implementation on the highway and which do not provide instant results to law enforcement officers at the scene. Assessment of DUID in many cases must be done either in hospital emergency rooms where sophisticated tests are available when injured DUID individuals are treated, or by coroners who request toxicology screening to complete cause of death investigations. Understanding factors associated with driving with a suspended/revoked license, especially in individuals who are known to be current or former drug users, who report either driving license suspension or revocation, and who are at risk for DUID, can provide insights into public policy changes that may be adopted in urban areas to reduce the safety risks posed by driving with suspended or revoked licenses, especially if DUID. The Center for Behavioral Research and Services (CBRS) has been conducting research and providing services to out-of-treatment drug users in the City of Long Beach since 1987. Since 2001 CBRS has worked to build a longitudinal data set of these current and former drug users for the purpose of analysis and dissemination of local data to address the problem of drug abuse in the Long Beach community. That data set includes data on over 3,000 unduplicated individuals who were interviewed while they were out of drug treatment and actively participating in the local drug culture, or who were interviewed while in drug treatment; as part of the data set, the Quality of Well-Being Scale, was obtained on a subset of them. The QWB includes mobility data, including status of driving license (never received, current, suspended or revoked), use of cars for transportation (as either driver or passenger) and use of public transportation. These mobility data can be linked to other data including recent drug use and arrest and incarceration data for purposes of answering local questions concerning the safety risks posed by these individuals.