On November 1, 1974 a law went into effect in the Netherlands granting the police more possibilities for taking action against drinking drivers. The police are authorized by this law to stop any person who is driving a motor vehicle, if they suspect the driver has been drinking. In presence of significant alcoholic-beverage odor on a driver's breath the police can request him to submit to a breath test. In judging whether the extension of police authority in the Netherlands has led to the removal from the highway of mostly social drinkers, leaving the problem drinker unapprehended, the following general conclusions were drawn. In spite of the extension of police authority, most DWI-drivers (64.5%) are still apprehended on classical grounds (driving behavior and accidents). The new legislation has led to considerably more drunken driver apprehensions. Comparison of three groups (Police Control Group, Driving Behavior Group and Accident Group) revealed no significant differences for the following variables: recidivism, refusal to submit to the blood test, kind of drugs used, MAST score and work situation. Significant differences were found for the variables "age" and "BAC". The author assumes that there is a relationship between these last two variables. Findings in an earlier study led him to conclude that the BAC increases as driver age increases. There is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the increased police authority has indeed resulted in the apprehension of more social drinkers than problem drinkers. The results of this exploratory study in no way lends firm support to the supposition that it is the perpetual social drinker in particular who is apprehended because of police checks. It is also possible to assume that many of them are social drinkers who are likely to become problem drinkers. The fact that no significant differences were found either for the MAST or the work situation might very well suggest this. However, proceeding from the fact that many experts consider detection in an early stage of drinking to be important, it would appear that authorization of the police to prevent drivers from driving after drinking with the help of an objective means, the breath test, was justified.

Media Info

  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 142-151

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00396589
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-037 592
  • Files: HSL, USDOT
  • Created Date: Aug 31 1985 12:00AM