To reduce DUI recidivism by first-time DUI offenders and thereby enhance traffic safety, Mississippi initiated the MASEP, a statewide driver improvement program in 1972. Its mission statement:
- To provide education, rehabilitation, and referral information for the first-time DUI offender.
- To create a DUI control system by integrating the enforcement, judicial, and rehabilitation / education functions.
- To design and evaluate the effectiveness of various education / rehabilitation modalities.
- To conduct research in order to design, implement, and test the effectiveness of intervention / prevention strategies.
When the program was first developed, it was aimed at first-time DUI offenders who were thought to be social drinkers who needed to be given some additional knowledge that would help them to keep from drinking and driving. The main focus of the early curriculum was to educate participants about alcohol, its effects on the body, and how these effects impair one’s ability to drive. The class consisted of a series of lectures that incorporated videos and some classroom discussion.
The curriculum was revised in 1981 and in 1983 to include information about the effects of alcohol on the body and about alcohol in general. It also included resources for people with drinking problems. The 1989 revision incorporated new strategies for dealing with individuals who have been arrested for drinking and driving to reflect the most up-to-date knowledge and theory on DUI offender rehabilitation, to develop a procedure to assess drinking problems and other life problems experienced drunk drivers, and to develop a directory of treatment services. The format also changed from a lecture-oriented education program to a group intervention approach to reducing DUI re-offending. In addition to providing information on the effects of alcohol on driving ability and health, participants completed an assessment of drinking problems and emotional problems associated with alcohol use, were given feedback on the severity of alcohol-related problems, and were introduced to the concept of developing a written DUI avoidance plan.
The program was revised again in September 2000, increasing the duration of the program from 10 to 12 hours and introducing group interaction techniques into the curriculum, intended to help MASEP participants’ process and reinforce awareness of how alcohol and other drugs affect their lives and giving them homework assignments designed to help participants examine the effects of alcohol and/or other drugs on all aspects of their lives were added. Finally, greater emphasis was placed on the development of the DUI avoidance plan. Participants were also given a brief feedback report that included their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at the time of arrest, their score on the Mortimer-Filkins Questionnaire, and a description of what these measures meant.
Many of the 2008 revisions to the MASEP curriculum were based on recommendations from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment’s (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 1999) Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 35), and on recommendations from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2008). These changes included evidence-based substance abuse intervention practices that were adapted to fit the needs of the MASEP participants. The changes included added motivational components, movement through stages of change, and effective assessment of alcohol and drug problems.
Spanish-language materials were developed from the curriculum, and gender specific information for alcohol use, alcohol effects, and health outcomes was incorporated. New content was developed to address the use of marijuana and other drugs. Changes were also made to help individuals with low literacy understand the curriculum.