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Drunken Drivers in Longitudinal Perspective

Joan McCord

The lives of men convicted for driving while intoxicated (DWI) were compared with those of other men who spent their childhoods in the same neighborhoods. The comparisons were based on interviews, questionnaires and agency records. Although not distinguishable by their age at first conviction, the men convicted for DWI were more likely to have been convicted for serious crimes. They were also more likely to be alcoholics. As children, they were less likely to have appeared to be insecure or dependent. During adolescence, those who would later be convicted for DWI were more likely to have parents who were inconsiderate and aggressive, and who fought with one another. The men convicted for drunken driving seemed independent and relatively self-confident, both during early childhood and in middle age. Their history of antisocial behavior belies a view that these men have inadvertently risked the safety of others during an unaccustomed lapse in self-control.