OBJECTIVE:

Little is known about risk factors in early adolescence that lead to driving under the influence (DUI) and riding with a drinking driver (RWDD). In a diverse group of adolescents, we longitudinally explored the influence of alcohol and marijuana (AM) use, AM beliefs, and peer and family factors (including familism) on DUI/RWDD in high school.

METHODS:

We conducted 3 surveys 2 years apart of 1189 students recruited from 16 middle schools in Southern California. We used multivariable models to evaluate the effects of AM use, AM beliefs, and peer and family factors at ages 12 and 14 on DUI/RWDD at age 16.

RESULTS:

At age 12, adolescents with more positive beliefs about marijuana (odds ratio [OR] = 1.63, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.20–2.20) and more ability to resist marijuana offers (OR = 1.89, 95% CI: 1.22–2.92) had significantly higher risk of DUI/RWDD 4 years later. At age 14, youth with more past month alcohol use (OR = 2.10, 95% CI: 1.07–4.11), positive beliefs about marijuana (OR = 1.67, 95% CI: 1.31–2.13), exposure to peer AM use (alcohol: OR = 1.01, 95% CI: 1.00–1.02; marijuana: OR = 2.41, 95% CI: 1.28–4.53), and family marijuana use (OR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.12–2.11) had higher risk of DUI/RWDD at age 16.

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings indicate a need to target adolescents as young as sixth grade at multiple levels to help prevent DUI/RWDD in high school. Given recent changes in legislation in several states, research should begin to focus on the distinction between DUI/RWDD of AM.

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