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Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

The Journal of Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues

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Volume 31, Issue 3 (Jun 2014)


Risk, control and self-identity: Young drunk drivers’ experiences with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs

PhD Lars Fynbo
  • SFI – The Danish National Centre for Social Research
  • Email:
Published Online: 2014-06-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/nsad-2014-0019


AIM - This article explores how young Danish drunk (and drug) drivers relate to the risk of driving under the influence (DUI). DESIGN - The study is based on qualitative interviews with 25 convicted drunk drivers who in 2010 participated in mandatory alcohol and traffic safety courses. The analysis follows Stephen Lyng’s concept of “edgework”, focusing on volitional risk taking and its effect on the acting individual’s self-identity. RESULTS - Drawing on the interviewees’ accounts of being arrested for drunk driving, the analysis discusses three different categories of young drunk drivers. Those in the first category view a DUI arrest as a loss of control and a reminder of the risk of DUI. Those in the second present DUI as a reaction to what they perceive as untenable social demands. Those in the third see loss of control - such as causing a traffic accident - as the ultimate way of claiming control over their lives. CONCLUSION - The study shows that young drunk drivers have different associations with DUI-related risks. The more constrained they feel in relation to society, the more likely it is that they will divorce negative experiences related to DUI such as being arrested or causing a traffic accident.

KEYWORDS: Driving under the influence (DUI); edgework; risk; control; qualitative interviews.


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About the article

Received: 2013-07-31

Accepted: 2014-05-14

Published Online: 2014-06-17

Published in Print: 2014-06-01

Citation Information: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, ISSN (Online) 1458-6126, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/nsad-2014-0019. Export Citation

© by Lars Fynbo. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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