Theses and Dissertations


Andrew Tatch

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Peterson, Lindsey

Committee Member

Haynes, Stacy

Committee Member

Brown, Dustin

Committee Member

Robertson, Angela

Committee Member

Kelly, Kimberly

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology


Despite modest reductions over previous decades, improvements in impaired driving prevalence have stalled at problematic levels in recent years. Recent self-report data indicate that 20 percent of driving age individuals acknowledge operating a vehicle within two hours of alcohol consumption within the previous year and there are approximately 121 million episodes of impaired driving annually. Extant research has consistently identified specific subgroups, including men, young adults, and individuals with less education, as being high risk for driving under the influence. Additionally, researchers of impaired driving have discerned certain impaired driving-related attitudes and behaviors as important predictors of impaired driving. Despite a large and growing base of literature, impaired driving research has been notably atheoretical and restricted by samples limited to specific ages or geographic regions. Regardless of the prevalence of impaired driving episodes, the likelihood of apprehension for DUI remains low and little is known about how offenders respond to an impaired driving arrest. I address these limitations in the current study. Using nationally representative data from the National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors, I consider the role of cognitive and behavioral predictors as mediating the association between key socio-structural indicators and impaired driving. To consider how individuals respond to DUI arrests, I performed an extensive qualitative content analysis on 627 DUI narratives from reddit (i.e., an online social forum) to consider how the arrest affects individuals apprehended for driving under the influence. Path analyses provide further support for previous studies, with men and young adults more likely to self-report impaired driving compared to females and older reference groups. Further, analyses indicate this increased likelihood of impaired driving by men and young adults was explained in part by differences in monthly alcohol consumption, binge drinking, supportive social networks, and more positive assessments of impaired driving. Analyses of DUI offenders indicate a stigmatizing effect of the DUI arrest, where offenders strategically attempt to deflect culpability for their role in attempts to minimize the range of perceived negative consequences. Overall, theoretical considerations and findings provide additional insight and areas of exploration for researchers and practitioners tasked with DUI mitigation efforts.