Drugged Driving Enforcement
Typical Current DUI Law Enforcement Procedures
- Law enforcement officers stop a driver only if they have reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing or is about to commit a crime (e.g., traffic infraction, erratic driving, etc.).
An arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) is made only if there is probable cause. Officers establish probable cause based upon the totality of the circumstances, including Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) test results and/or a preliminary breath test for alcohol.
Evidentiary testing for alcohol is conducted post-arrest at the station. Presently, arrestees who test below the legal limit for alcohol are rarely tested for drugs. Those who test above the 0.08g/dL limit for alcohol are routinely not also tested for drugs.
When DUI suspects test negative for the presence of alcohol, a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) may be called in to administer an evaluation which typically takes about an hour. DREs are skilled in detecting and identifying drivers under the influence of drugs and in identifying the category or categories of drugs causing the impairment.
42 states and the District of Columbia have implemented Administrative License Revocation (ALR) laws that require law enforcement officers to immediately seize the driver’s licenses of individuals arrested for DUI who refuse to provide a sample for toxicological testing or provide a sample above the 0.08g/dL limit for alcohol. Learn about the potential for ALR for drugs.
New Enforcement Actions + Opportunities
- Test all drivers arrested for suspicion of impairment for alcohol AND drugs, including marijuana.
Screen all drivers who test above the 0.08 g/dL limit for drugs. Obtain additional samples (i.e., blood, oral fluid, or urine samples) for laboratory testing for all of those who screen positive for drugs.
Apply ALR for drivers arrested for impairment who test positive for drugs or who refuse to provide samples for drug testing.
Facilitate the development of rapid wireless/electronic warrant processes for acquiring specimens for drug testing.
Impaired Driver Offender Assessment + Monitoring
Impaired driving offenders should be assessed for both alcohol and drug use problems, with those in need of treatment or rehabilitation referred to the appropriate programs. Many alcohol-impaired drivers also have related drug problems but are not assessed or if identified are downplayed which means they go untreated.
DUID offenders should be monitored to prevent continued drug use as a condition of their being able to drive. Licenses should be revoked for offenders until it can be determined that the drivers are drug-free and pose no further threat to others' safety. Monitoring with random drug tests while under supervision can be very effective. Even those drivers who may not need treatment require random drug tests for a substantial period of time to ensure that they remain drug-free after conviction for drug-impaired driving.
The National Center for DWI Courts is dedicated to reducing impaired driving recidivism and provides resources, training and publication on DWI/DUI Courts, an effective criminal justice reform that address both alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. See related Research Update on DWI Courts.
An example of a successful program that deals with repeat DUI offenders is the 24/7 Sobriety Program which, while primarily focused on alcohol use, applies to both alcohol- and drug-using DUI offenders. 24/7 Sobriety closely monitors participants using a combination of twice-daily breath tests for alcohol and random drug tests. Offenders are aware of the swift and certain consequences for any violation of the no-use standard. These consequences help offenders refrain from alcohol and drug use. 24/7 Sobriety participants have lower rates of DUI recidivism compared to individuals who do not participate in the program. For repeat offenders, even minimal days of participation in 24/7 Sobriety positively impacts recidivism rates, while individuals with at least 30 days of program participation show a greater reduction in recidivism.
Recommended Reading + Resources
The following is not a comprehensive list of related reading and resources but serves as a starting point for more information on these drugged driving issues. Be sure to also check out the Resources page.
- Arnold, L. S., & Scopatz, R. A. (2016). Advancing Drugged Driving Data at the State Level: Synthesis of Barriers and Expert Panel Recommendations. Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
- DuPont, R. L., & Shea, C. L. (2014). The Public Safety Threat of Drugged Driving. Need to Know. Alexandria, VA: National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
- DuPont, R. L., Shea, C. L., Talpins, S. K. & Voas, R. B. (2010). Leveraging the criminal justice system to reduce alcohol- and drug-related crime: a review of three promising and innovative programs. The Prosecutor, 44(1), 38-42.
- Flannigan, J., Talpins, S. K., & Moore, C. M. (2017). Oral fluid testing for impaired driving enforcement. The Police Chief, 58-65.
- Hartman, R. L., Richman, J. E., Hayes, C. E., & Huestis, M. A. (2016). Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) examination characteristics of cannabis impairment. Accident; analysis and prevention, 92, 219-229.
- International Association of Chiefs of Police: International Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC) / Drug Recognition Experts
- Logan, B. K., et al. (2013). Recommendations for toxicological investigation of drug-impaired driving and motor vehicle fatalities. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 37(8), 552-558.
- Kilmer, B., Nicosia, N., Heaton, P. & Midgette, G. (2013). Efficacy of frequent monitoring with swift, certain, and modest sanctions for violations: insights from South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), e37-e43.
- Midgette, G. & Kilmer, B. (2015). The effect of Montana’s 24/7 Sobriety Program on DUI re-arrest: insights from a natural experiment with limited administrative data. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
- National Center for DWI Courts
- Nicosia, N., Kilmer, B., & Heaton, P. (2016). Can a criminal justice alcohol abstinence programme with swift, certain, and modest sanctions (24/7 Sobriety) reduce population morality? A retrospective observational study. The Lancet Psychiatry.
- Sabet, K., Talpins, S. K., Dunagan, M. & Holmes, E. (2013). Smart justice: a new paradigm for dealing with offenders. Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, 6(1), 1-17.
- Talpins, S. K., Chisolm, J. T., LaBahn, D., Sabet, K., Dunagan, M., & Holmes, E. (n.d.). Smart justice: a new paradigm for dealing with offenders. National Partnership on Alcohol Misuse and Crime.
- Talpins, S. K., DuPont, R. L., Walls, C. H., Sabet, K., & Wallace, D. (2015). The Miami-Dade protocol: making drugged driving enforcement a reality. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Dependence, 3(4), 212-213.
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