The Swedish Joint Action Method against Drink Driving: A Study of Suspected Drink Drivers' Own Experiences

Publisher's full text
Susanne Gustafsson

In Sweden, a joint action method called SMADIT is in use, where the police quickly offer help from the social services or the dependency care and treatment service to suspected drink drivers. One conclusion from this paper is that SMADIT, as an innovative method that can be deployed more rapidly than other alcohol-impaired driving countermeasures, should be considered as a good complement to conventional methods to deal with drink driving.

The objective of this paper is to analyse the experiences of suspected drink drivers who accepted the offer of help, and what it meant for them. To enable comparisons over time, in-depth interviews were conducted with twelve suspected drink drivers on two occasions with one year between.

To varying degrees the informants knew about their alcohol problems, but were unsure if they would have sought help by themselves. Therefore, the original ideas of the method with an initial contact with the social services or the dependency care and treatment service within 24 hours, was found to be important. However, the results also showed that some of the informants needed some time before the first meeting as they were in shock from the drink driving incident or in need of sleep.

Results also shows that an encouraging attitude among the police, the social services, and the dependency care and treatment service is important for the success of the SMADIT method. The informants are satisfied with the method, and in retrospect the incident and the SMADIT offer of help are described as a turning point in their lives. One year after being offered help the informants had gained insights into the harm they could have done to other road users when they drove while drunk.

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