Background—People arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are at high risk to reoffend. One reason for this high rate of recidivism among DUI offenders is that these individuals systematically underestimate the degree to which alcohol impairs their ability to drive. This study compared perceived and objective driving ability following alcohol and performance feedback in drivers with and without a history of DUI.

Method—Adult drivers with (n = 20) and without (n = 20) a history of DUI arrest attended two dose challenge sessions where they received 0.64 g/kg alcohol or placebo, completed a simulated driving task, and provided measures of subjective impairment. They attended a third retesting session where they received feedback that they were impaired by alcohol. They received 0.64 g/kg alcohol and their objective and perceived driving ability was retested.

Results—Both groups showed significant impairment of driving performance following 0.64 g/kg alcohol compared to placebo. DUI offenders rated themselves as less impaired than controls. After performance feedback, self-reported impairment during the alcohol retest increased for DUI offenders but not for controls. There was no effect of performance feedback on objective driving ability.

Conclusions—These results support the notion that under alcohol DUI offenders characteristically perceive themselves as better able to drive than non-offenders. These perceptions can be tempered by performance feedback. To the extent that perceived ability to drive safely after drinking contributes to DUI and its recidivism, feedback geared towards lowering this self-efficacy could reduce willingness to engage in this behavior.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, v. 172, p. 73-79.

© 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

This manuscript version is made available under the CC‐BY‐NC‐ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

The document available for download is the author's post-peer-review final draft of the article.

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Funding Information

This research was supported by the following grants from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: R01AA018274 and F31AA022263.