Judicial Outcome for the Intoxicated Driver Admitted to a Regional Trauma Center
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OBJECTIVE: To examine the judicial outcomes for intoxicated drivers who were admitted to regional trauma centers as a result of motor vehicle collisions (MVCs). METHODS: A retrospective review of the trauma registry of a Level I trauma center was conducted for the period from January 1, 1989, through December 31, 1990. Inclusion criteria for entry into the study were 1) identification of the patient as the driver involved in an MVC, 2) a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.10 g/dL, and 3) survival until discharge from the hospital. A total 245 patients from the trauma registry met the inclusion criteria. The number of persons from the submitted list who were later convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) was obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the Common- wealth of Virginia. RESULTS: Of the list submitted to the DMV, only nine individuals (3.7%; 95% confidence interval = 1.3--6.0%) were convicted of DUI during the MVCs that led to hospitalization during the study period. During the same time period, the statewide conviction rate for DUI-cited drivers was 85%. CONCLUSION: Admission to the trauma service at a Level I trauma center may provide a refuge from legal consequences for intoxicated drivers involved in MVCs.
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