Although drinking and driving in the United States has declined substantially during the past two decades, this trend had not been seen among Hispanic drivers. Higher rates of driving while impaired (DWI) arrests and alcohol-related crashes, particularly among Mexican Americans, also have been noted. The extent to which this reflects a lack of understanding of DWI laws rather than a disregard for them is unknown. A survey was conducted among Mexican American and Caucasian male DWI arrestees in Long Beach, California, to ascertain alcohol use, attitudes toward drinking and drinking and driving, and knowledge of DWI laws. The findings were compared with those of Mexican American and Caucasian males recruited from the local community. Mexican American males, both DWIs and those from the community, reported heavier drinking than Caucasian males. All four groups of respondents tended to underestimate the number of drinks needed to achieve the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold at or above which it is illegal to drive under California law. However, Mexican American DWIs and their comparison group vastly overestimated the number of drinks to make them unsafe drivers. Furthermore, they were particularly uninformed about the BAC threshold in California. This study is limited in scope and needs to be replicated in other communities and with other racial/ethnic groups. However, these differences in drinking practices, beliefs and knowledge about the effect of alcohol on impairment, and how that relates to DWI laws point to avenues for education and intervention. The need for culturally sensitive programs that are developed and implemented within the Mexican American community is discussed.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

    1005 North Glebe Road
    Arlington, VA  United States  22201
  • Authors:
    • Ferguson, S A
    • BURNS, M M
    • Fiorentino, D
    • Williams, A F
    • Garcia, J
  • Publication Date: 2000-7


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 14 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00803576
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 5 2001 12:00AM