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A Prospective Study of the Utility of Standardized Instruments in Predicting Recidivism among First DWI Offenders

Sandra C. Lapham, Betty J. Skipper, Gary L. Simpson

Objective: The present study investigated the utility of four instruments--the MacAndrews scale of the MMPI-2 (MAC), four scales of the Alcohol Use Inventory (AUI), the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST) and the Skinner's Trauma Scale (STS)--in assessing risk for rearrest among first driving while impaired (DWI) offenders. Method: Subjects were clients (N = 1,384,80% male) convicted of a DWI offense who were referred to the Lovelace Comprehensive Screening Program for evaluation and who completed a court-mandated screening program. Stratified life table analysis was used to determine rearrest rates in the period following the screening referral. Results: After 4 years of follow-up the overall rearrest rate was 21.0%. The best predictors of recidivism were a MAC score of 23 or above, elevated scores on AUI scales, young male status (age 30 or under) and arrest blood alcohol concentration (BAG) of .200% or above. The best schematic for classifying first offenders into risk groups was determined using the risk factors above and defined groups with recidivism rates ranging from 13.0% to 38.8%. Conclusions: We were able to identify cohorts of first offenders at relatively low and high risk for recidivism using a stratified analysis with six strata defined from four variables. The MAC was the best, single variable for classifying offenders' future recidivism risk, indicating that, in addition to evaluating for the presence and severity of alcohol and drug use, screening programs for DWI offenders should carefully evaluate personality factors in making referral and sentencing recommendations. (J. Stud. Alcohol 58: 524-530, 1997)