Impaired driving among rural female drug-involved offenders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Very little is known about rural female impaired drivers despite disproportionate rates of impaired driving arrests and associated traffic fatalities in rural areas. The present study examined past-year impaired driving histories and impaired driving correlates in a sample of rural female drug-involved offenders. Methods: Female drug-involved offenders (N = 400) from 3 rural jails completed a confidential interview focused on substance use and related risk behaviors. After removing cases with missing data (n = 23), participants self-reporting past-year impaired driving (n = 254) were compared to those who did not (n = 123) on demographic characteristics, substance use, mental health, and criminal histories. Impaired drivers also reported the substances involved in their past-year impaired driving episodes. Results: A significantly higher percentage of impaired drivers reported past-year use of 8 of the 11 substances (including alcohol) examined when compared to other drug-involved offenders. Though symptoms of major depressive and posttraumatic stress disorders were similar, significantly more impaired drivers (49.6%) reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder than did other drug-involved offenders (35.0%). No differences in criminal histories were found. Nearly all (94.9%) impaired drivers reported driving under the influence of drugs in the past year; less than one-fourth reported driving under the influence of alcohol. Prescription opioids were the most prevalent substance type involved in impaired driving episodes (84.6%), followed by anti-anxiety medications (40.9%). Approximately one-third of impaired drivers reported driving under the influence of methamphetamine (33.9%), marijuana (31.5%), and alcohol (30.7%) in the past year. Conclusions: Findings indicate that rural female impaired drivers may have more extensive substance use and mental health problems than other rural female drug-involved offenders. In addition, study results suggest that a recent history of impaired driving may serve as a marker for a more extensive substance use history. Other implications include that early identification of impaired drivers in at-risk groups may be an important opportunity to prevent future traffic injuries and fatalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-520
Number of pages8
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 16 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Impaired driving
  • rural
  • substance use
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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