Strengthening Impaired-Driving Enforcement in the United States

Progress in reducing alcohol-impaired driving crash fatalities in the United States has stagnated over the last 15 years. This article reviews 2 current U.S. driving-while-intoxicated (DWI) laws and their enforcement with an aim toward generating opportunities to improve their enforcement approaches. Impaired-driving enforcement methods in Europe and Australia are compared with those in the United States, and the legal basis for current DWI criminal procedures is examined. An examination of relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions and current legal practices indicates that the requirements for use of breath test technology to determine blood alcohol concentrations of drivers on public roads are not entirely clear. Several potential methods for using field breath test technology to improve the detection of impaired drivers are suggested. These include (a) breath testing all drivers stopped for certain violations that have a high probability of involving an impaired driver, (b) breath testing all drivers at sobriety checkpoints, and (c) breath testing all drivers involved in fatal and serious injury crashes. Breath test technology has enabled other countries around the world to adopt and implement enforcement strategies that serve as both general and specific deterrents to alcohol-impaired driving. Many of these enforcement strategies have been shown to be effective. If any one of these strategies can be adopted in the United States, further progress in reducing impaired driving is probable. It may be necessary to provide the U.S. Supreme Court with a test case of breath testing all drivers at a sobriety checkpoint, depending upon whether or not a police agency is willing to use that strategy.


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  • Accession Number: 01502636
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 11 2013 11:21AM