Regulation and Enforcement

From restricted to open licence: Does increasing the legal BAC for young drivers cause more harm than good (2017 - in progress)


Previous research indicates that legislative BAC levels are important to the formation of norms and attitudes around drink driving. Unlike the open licence holder’s environment, abstinence from alcohol is the essential norm for driving among learner and provisional drivers. Consuming any alcohol before driving for this group is not only illegal; it also constitutes a socially deviant behaviour. To our knowledge, no previous studies have examined the impact of these social attitudes and influences on young people’s driving during (during this period) and just as significantly, after transitioning to an open licence where the legislative requirement regarding BAC increases.

To better understand the impact of the current GDL 0.00% BAC laws and, more importantly, their removal upon obtaining an open licence a number of questions need to be answered:

  1. What instrumental (e.g., deterrence) versus normative (e.g., social influences, attitudes) factors have the largest influence on GDL 0.00% BAC rule compliance? 
  2. Do social norms and personal attitudes toward drink driving change (or remain stable) in response to the removal of GDL 0.00% BAC restrictions that permit moderated drinking (e.g., BAC <0.05%) when an open licence is obtained?
  3. Does the removal of the 0.00% BAC GDL restriction result in an increase in drink driving events? (both self-report as well as apprehensions)?  If so, what are the primary risk factors of non-compliance (e.g., more frequent trips to licensed premises, increasing disposable income, more engagement in activities where alcohol is consumed, entering into relationships where alcohol consumption is part of the fabricate of interactions etc.)
  4. Do newly open licensed drivers have the knowledge and capacity to accurately judge alcohol intake before driving and/or avoid the social and environmental pressures that promote such behaviours? When do they use this knowledge? Is it before they engage in situations where they know alcohol will be consumed or is it whenever they are faced with the decision (on a case by case basis?) What cognitive processes underlie young driver’s decision making and how stable is it over time?


This research is supported by MAIC with QPS.


Contact: Kerry Armstrong Linked to another web site, Jeremy Davey Linked to another web site, or James Freeman Linked to another web site


Related CARRS-Q research

Theme: Regulation and Enforcement
Alcohol-affected driving
Young drivers



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