Drinking and driving : an exploration of the influence of convicted drink drivers' socially constructed ideas on how they came to offend
This study explored with a group of male drink drivers how the social constructions they held about themselves as drinkers, drivers or drinking drivers and the personal rules they developed to avoid offending contributed to or hindered their offending. Fifty male convicted drink drive offenders, who had attended a rehabilitation course, subsequently were interviewed on the basis of self-recorded drinking of at least 40+ units of alcohol per week. This study seeks to understand the sense people made of the events leading to their offending. The study did not confirm assumptions that drink drive offenders were all heavy consumers of alcohol, problem drinkers, persistent offenders or drivers who regularly drove when drunk. The majority claimed they had not wanted to offend and that they had actively developed personal rules to avoid drinking above the limit and then driving. The factors that led to the breakdown of these rules were explored. This raised questions about the intentions, expectancies and social constructions that constituted these drivers' desire not to offend. The study tried to discern such social constructions and the part they played in bringing about the offence. The study has shown that the person's understanding of his drinking patterns and styles is critical to not offending, as are some constructions that commonly define 'drinking' and 'driving'. In the absence of accurate information about alcohol or the law, people relied on these social constructions, but limited by their personal feelings. There were too many inaccurate factors in their constructions, understandings and behaviour to avoid offending. Public policy, as one shaper of social constructions, is discussed and some findings for future policy suggested.