Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

Brief Motivational Interviewing for Impaired Driving Recidivists



Implementer: Douglas Mental Health University Institute Addiction Research Program

Partners: ABMRF/The Foundation for Alcohol Research; Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team; Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation; McGill-Dongier Endowment for Addiction Research

Program Overview: Driving while impaired (DWI) recidivists undergo brief motivational interviewing (BMI) in order to reduce DWI and other dangerous traffic violations.

Program Design: The brief motivational interviewing (BMI) intervention consists of a one 30-minute session and is inspired by the principles and techniques of motivational interviewing. It involves an empathic interviewing style that: (i) recognizes, explores, and aims at resolving client ambivalence to facilitate behavior change; (ii) enhances self-efficacy; (iii) entertains flexible strategies for resolving alcohol misuse and driving while impaired (DWI); (iv) avoids argumentation, advising, or convincing; (v) deploys tactics to “roll with resistance”; and (vi) seeks to elicit participant expression of intentions and commitment to change risky drinking.

Evaluation: The study was a double-blind randomized controlled trial in which 180 community-recruited recidivists (2 or more convictions) who scored 6 or above on the AUDIT six months prior to the study were assigned at baseline to either BMI or control (CTL). They were recruited through advertisements in local papers, invitation letters, and word of mouth. The CTL intervention consists of one 30-minute session in which the researchers delivered scripted information on the risks of alcohol misuse and DWI, advice to change alcohol misuse, and information about available substance abuse treatment services.

They key outcome measure was duration of time before next arrest for DWI, speeding, or other moving violations or crashes.

Key findings: In a previously published randomized controlled trial, a 30-minute brief motivational interviewing (BMI) session was found to be more effective in reducing percentages of risky drinking days in DWI recidivists than a control information-advice intervention at 12-month follow-up (Brown et al, 2010).

The main finding in this study was that while BMI and CTL interventions were not associated with significantly different outcomes across the whole group of participants, when the effect of age was accounted for outcomes were better with exposure to BMI compared with CTL: that is, a significantly longer delay in the subsequent arrest leading to conviction for DWI, speeding, or another moving traffic violation was found in the youngest offenders (below 43 years old) exposed to BMI compared with CTL.


Ouimet, M.C., Dongier, M., Leo, I.D., Legault, L., Tremblay, J., Chanut, F., & Brown, T.G. (2013). A randomized controlled trial of brief motivational interviewing in impaired driving recidivists: a 5-year follow-up of traffic offenses and crashes. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37(11), 1979-1985.

Brown, T.G., Dongier, M., Ouimet, M.C., Tremblay, J., Chanut, F., Legault, L., & Ng Ying Kin, N.M. (2010). Brief motivational interviewing for DWI recidivists who abuse alcohol and are not participating in DWI intervention: a randomized controlled trial. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 34(2), 292-301.

Target Audience: Drink driving offenders
Issues: Drinking and Driving
Setting: Remedial Drink Driving Programs
Approach: Motivational Interviewing, Motivation Enhancement
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