Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to drug-impaired driving, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they might work best, and some factors to consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances and that you can justify each response on the basis of reliable analyses. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
General Considerations for an Effective Response Strategy
1 Implementing
per se (aka "zerotolerance")
laws
Increases the
probability
of successful
prosecution of
offenders; subjects
more drug-impaired
drivers to arrest
and prosecution;
communicates
societal intolerance
for drug-impaired
driving
....states or countries
are interested in
strong enforcement
policies and are not
as concerned about
the inadequacies of
current field-testing
protocols
Some drivers who
are not actually
impaired will still be
punished, perhaps
harshly, depending
on the location
and local laws; false
positives may affect
a small minority
of drivers; legality
of enforcement of
these laws may be
challenged; drugimpaired
drivers
using prescription
or over-the-counter
medications may
not be included
2 Developing drugimpaired
driver
courts
Holds offenders
accountable for
future substance
use and offending;
ensures closer
monitoring of
offenders in an
effort to prevent
repeat offending
....offenders are
at high risk for
recidivism or have
had more than one
arrest for driving
while impaired
Establishing drugimpaired
driver
courts can require
significant time and
start-up resources,
although these
courts are often cost
effective in the long
run
3 Implementing or
improving on-site,
point-of-contact
(field) drugtesting
devices and
protocols
Improves
prosecution success
and ensures that
drug testing occurs
near the time and
place of the offense,
which improves
validity of test
results
....the devices are
user-friendly, cost
effective, accurate,
and reliable
There are a number
of technological
devices available
and still evolving,
so police agencies
will need to keep
pace with ongoing
innovations; the
technology is still
in development and
may not accurately
assess newer drugs
or certain categories
of drugs
4 Standardizing laband
field-testing
protocols
Facilitates successful
testing protocols
that can withstand
legal scrutiny;
increases probability
of conviction
....agencies know
how to handle
testing samples and
have the resources to
handle them
While some
guidelines for
standardizing
such protocols are
evolving, many
jurisdictions operate
independently;
therefore,
standardization
among many
jurisdictions remains
challenging
5 Suspending,
restricting, or
revoking driving
privileges
Deters other
potential offenders
by threat of
punishment;
limits offending
by controlling
opportunities to
drive a vehicle
....police,
prosecutors,
and courts have
the resources to
adequately enforce
violations
Repeat offenders
and those with
persistent substance
abuse problems
are less likely to be
deterred and will
often continue to
drive while impaired
despite repeated
administrative or
legal restrictions;
police, prosecution,
and judicial
resources for
enforcement are
often scarce
Enforcement Responses
6 Implementing
high-visibility
enforcement,
including sobriety
checkpoints
Increases risk of
apprehension at
high-risk times and
places; raises public
awareness of drugimpaired
driving
....police are able to
identify offending
patterns at high-risk
times and places
Legal challenges
regarding sobriety
checkpoints are
likely to hinder
implementation in
some jurisdictions;
can be resource
intensive
7 Training police
officers to be drug
recognition experts
Increases likelihood
of successful
prosecution and
ensures that suspects
are treated fairly but
tested accurately
....scale of drugimpaired
driving
is sufficiently large
to justify training
costs; prosecutors'
evidentiary
requirements are
satisfied
Legal challenges
to admission of
collected evidence
will consume court
and officer time;
training costs can be
substantial
Restricting Vehicle Access
8 Impounding,
immobilizing, or
confiscating vehicles
or vehicle license
plates of drugimpaired
drivers
Prevents offenders
from driving their
own vehicle or
increases likelihood
of being stopped by
police for driving
without a license
plate
....clearly authorized
by law
Legal challenges
may surface, as
well as concerns
about excessive
punishment (e.g.,
for first offenders);
costs associated with
vehicle confiscation
might be substantial
Reducing Drug Use
9 Mandating drug
treatment for all
drug-impaired
drivers
Reduces likelihood
of recidivism by
reducing demand
for illicit drugs
....treatment
programs are
properly matched
by drug type and
offender's needs
Treatment does not
have to occur in
lieu of punishment,
but punishment
without treatment
may be less effective;
treatment costs are
substantial
10 Using electronicmonitoring
devices
to closely track
repeat drugimpaired
driving
offenders
Increases offenders'
risk of drug
detection and
apprehension
....employed in
conjunction with
driving restrictions
and drug use
monitoring
Start-up costs
may be expensive,
but ongoing costs
of electronic
monitoring are
generally more
reasonable than
incarceration costs;
requires staff time to
monitor offenders
and apprehend
them, if necessary
Education and Prevention Responses
11 Conducting publicawareness
campaigns
directed at the
general population
and targeting highrisk
populations
Draws attention
to dangers and
consequences
associated with
drug-impaired
driving
....targeted to highrisk
populations,
including youths,
college students,
first-time offenders,
drug users, the
elderly, and in
jurisdictions that
have relaxed drug
laws (including
those permitting
medical marijuana);
message is deemed
credible by intended
audience
Campaigns with
multiple message
points and sponsors
may be more
effective; costs may
be substantial and
benefits limited
12 Mandating drugimpaired
driving
education and
prevention programs
for high-risk drivers
Focuses on
education and
prevention programs
that reach at-risk
populations or that
may be required
for certain at-risk
populations;
targets high-risk
populations and
ensures that those
groups understand
the risks and
consequences
....the programs
emphasize the
swiftness and
certainty of
apprehension,
focus on nonlegal
sanctions, correct
misperceptions
about the risks
of drug-impaired
driving, and are
supported with
frequent fieldtesting
programs
(e.g., sobriety
checkpoints) and
public-awareness
campaigns
Different programs
will need to be
developed for
different risk groups
such as repeat
offenders, the elderly
on prescriptions,
and youths
13 Educating and
engaging physicians
and pharmacists
regarding
prescription drug
abuse and drugimpaired
driving
Ensures that those
who prescribe drugs
are fully aware of
the consequences
of drug-impaired
driving and
are engaged in
prevention efforts
....physicians
and pharmacists
recognize their own
liability concerns
and work with
engaged partners
who might
provide alternative
transportation
opportunities for
prescription drug
users
Many designated
driver programs
already exist
that focus on
preventing drunk
driving, and these
programs might be
readily adopted or
expanded to address
the consequences of
prescription drug
use while driving
14 Encouraging
physicians and
pharmacists to
educate their
patients about
the link between
the use of certain
prescription drugs
and impaired
driving
Ensures point-ofsale
educational
awareness and
delivers the message
outside of the
criminal justice
system, which may
be more appropriate
for some groups and
more effective for
others
....the programs
involve physicians
and pharmacists and
provide a variety
of options for safe
delivery and use of
prescription and
over-the-counter
medications that
can hinder driving
ability
Pharmaceutical
companies will need
to be active partners
in acknowledging
the risks associated
with their
medications and
in educating users
about those risks
Responses with Limited or Unknown Effectiveness
15 Confining
convicted drugimpaired
drivers
to their homes
in the absence of
close monitoring
(electronic or
otherwise)
Deters offenders
from driving
through fear of
sanctions
....sanctions are
certain and swift;
drug treatment is
also made available
Home confinement
restrictions are too
easily violated absent
vigilant monitoring
16 Developing ignition
interlocking devices
and requiring
convicted drugimpaired
drivers to
install them
Reduces likelihood
of impaired driving
by preventing
such drivers from
operating their own
vehicle while drug
impaired
....the technology
is reliable and valid
(and available);
monitoring is
effective
Technology of such
devices is still in
early development
and testing stages;
offender might
have access to other
vehicles
17 Developing and
implementing
devices that monitor
drug use
Deters offenders
from using drugs
illicitly out of
fear of detection
and punishment;
facilitates
compliance by
giving offenders
a valid argument
against others who
encourage drug use
....technology
is reliable and
if monitoring is
vigilant and results
in swift and certain
sanctions for
violations
Technology of
such devices is still
being developed
and will not be
widely available
for some time;
legal challenges
will likely delay
implementation,
and different
technologies
will need to be
developed for
different substances
18 Incarcerating drugimpaired
drivers
Prevents offenders
from driving while
incarcerated; deters
potential offenders
through fear of
punishment
....punishment
is also swift
and certain;
incarceration is
accompanied by
drug treatment
This response may
be the best available
option for persistent
offenders who are
not responsive to
other forms of
intervention
19 Substantially
increasing fines
for drug-impaired
driving offenses
Intended to deter
potential offenders
through aversion to
paying fines
.....fines are
proportional to
income levels and
to seriousness
of offense and
are consistently
enforced
Fines are often not
paid, and follow-up
enforcement is often
lax