This review summarizes evidence on negative affect among drinking drivers. Elevations in negative affect, including depressed mood, anxiety and hostility, have long been noted in convicted drinking drivers, and recent evidence suggests an association between negative affect and driving after drinking in the general population. Previous efforts to understand the significance of this negative affective state have ranged from suggestions that it may play a causal role in drinking driving to suggestions that it may interfere with response to treatment and remedial interventions. Recent studies have uncovered an important paradox involving negative affect among convicted drinking drivers (hereafter DUI offenders). DUI offenders with high levels of negative affect recidivated more frequently following a DUI program than did those reporting no or minimal negative affect. However, when a brief supportive motivational intervention was added to the program, offenders with high negative affect levels showed lower recidivism rates than did those with no or minimal negative affect. The review includes studies from the general literature on alcohol treatment in which the same negative affect paradox was reported. In an attempt to understand this paradox, we present a conceptual model involving wellestablished psychological processes, with a focus on salient discrepancy, the crucial component of cognitive dissonance. In this model, negative affect plays an important role in motivating both continued high-risk drinking as well as therapeutic change. This model suggests that links between motivational states and negative affective processes may be more complex than previously thought. Implications for intervention with DUI offenders are discussed.