A qualitative study of deterrence and deviance in a group of recidivist drink drivers

  • Kerry Smith

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This research evolved from evidence that hard-core drink drivers do not appear to respond consistendy to deterrents and that not enough is known about why this is the case. Gaps in knowledge about the behaviour and attitudes of recidivist drink drivers hinder a comprehensive and effective response to addressing this social problem. Hard-core recidivist drink drivers have been alternately described as alcoholics (or alcohol dependents) who drive (Andenaes 1988,Wilson 1992,NHTSA 2000) or deviants (Henderson 1975,1996,Homel 1988,Wilson 1996,Baum et al 1997). Others have described their behaviour as deviant (Vingilis 1987, Snortum 1988,Geller and Lehman 1988,Anleu 1995) or that their behaviour is perreived as deviant (Robinson 1979,Gusfield 1981). However, few have sought to establish deviancy using sociological definitions. Road safety policy and prevention strategies have relied on the deterministic view of the individual deviant drink. driver, such as the 'killer drunk' (Gusfield 1981) or the Victorian 'Drink . Drive Bloody Idiot' campaign (Cameron et al 1997),rather than targeting the situational factors which encourage and support the activity. These individualistic approaches see the drink driver as alcoholics or alcohol dependents who drive, or people with psychological problems whose dangerous driving habits are associated with other problem behaviour (Wilson 1996,McDonald and Mann 1996). This makes them poor targets for the deterrence approach (Zimring and Hawkins 1973). One of the foundations of deterrence theory is that people are rational and able to make reasoned decisions. That is not the case when a person has consumed alcohol, and it becomes increasingly problematic as the level of alcohol increases (Geller and Lehman 1988,McKnight and Voas 1991). Alcohol not only causes over-confidence, but this masks the lack of coordination, loss of balance and reduced perceptual abilities of the person affected (Kohnen 1993,Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA] 1995,National Health and Medical Research Council [NHMRC] 2001,Centre for Education and Information on Drugs and Alcohol [CEIDA] 2002).
    Date of Award2003
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDon Fleming (Supervisor)

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