A new study highlights the importance of drivers who have had their licenses suspended choosing to get their privileges reinstated as soon as possible, as well as attending a course at an online traffic school
in order to regain their ability to drive.
Scientists at the Impaired Driving Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation have completed a study that shows that suspending a license, designed to reduce the number of repeat offenders, can actually be harmful to the driving population as a whole if the barriers to obtain a license again are too great.
Robert Voas is one of the senior scientists at the center and notes that many drivers who have already committed illicit acts such as driving while intoxicated do not see much benefit in obtaining their license after being suspended, perhaps because the penalties in many states are not very strong.
It's an analysis that has been proven in Texas, where state officials note that driving without a license and driving while intoxicated are both supposed to gain fees used to pay first responders. Instead, many residents are racking up fees that they may not even be aware exist.
"We found that 50 percent of second offenders delay reinstating for more than a year," said Voas. "Those that delay have higher recidivism rates after they are reinstated, suggesting – but not demonstrated in this study – that they will have higher crash rates. Additionally, one third of second offenders will never reinstate."
It's clear from the study results that getting through to drivers who have been convicted of being intoxicated while operating a vehicle as soon as possible can help to reduce the problems of multiple offenses.
Combining a quality traffic school curriculum with new programs that would put drivers on the fast track to getting their licenses back once their suspensions are up is one way, as are required intervention and substance abuse treatment programs note the researchers.
For motorists who practice defensive driving and don't operate their cars under the influence, the impact of these programs would still be felt: Voas and his team note that the drivers who fail to get their license re-instated are also more likely to drive without insurance, leaving others to bear the costs of their choices.
It will mean developing strategies that keep the offender engaged with the legal system and avenues to remediate behavior, the scientists added. When someone who runs afoul of the law remains integrated with society, recidivism goes down and the laws tend to offer a better chance of putting safer drivers back on the road.
"Our roadways are the national commons," added fellow scientist Paul Marques. "It is silly to imagine that we can bring DUI behavior under control just by making laws that are more punitive or restrictive. The evidence developed by Voas and colleagues provides an estimate of problem magnitude and should ideally form the basis for policy innovations."