PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS
Over a decade ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized that alcohol-related traffic crashes are a “leading cause of unintentional
injury and deaths and a substantial contributor to
health care costs in the United States.”7 There is no
absolute right to drive.8 People who risk their own
lives, let alone the lives of others, by driving while
impaired by alcohol and/or drugs should not be
allowed to drive.
General deterrence is the key to curtailing
impaired driving. Deterrence is based on sustained
high visibility law enforcement, coupled with swift
and certain punishment. Traditionally, we—as highway
safety professionals, advocates, law enforcement
officers, prosecutors, and other stakeholders—
worked separately. Our efforts have achieved
moderate success. Working together, we can do so
Stakeholders often can reap great benefits by
partnering with others within their discipline. There
are many examples of intra-disciplinary collaborations
that work well, including:
- Enforcement Collaboration
Law enforcement agencies have achieved
tremendous success sharing best practices and
resources. Doing this leads to more effective
training, sobriety check points, saturation patrols, task
forces, and use of equipment. It also promotes
consistency and enhances working relationships
between city, county, state, and Tribal police
- Toxicology Collaboration
Toxicologists have joined together to form
professional alliances that allow them to share
knowledge, address complicated issues, and further
develop their expertise.
There are numerous effective strategies and
tactics that can be relied upon. All of them,
however, are dependent upon public support.
Accordingly, stakeholders usually can accomplish
more by breaking traditional boundaries and working
with other disciplines. By expanding productive
partnerships and advancing collaboration, law
enforcement agencies can gain vital support,
amplify available resources, and share ownership for
traffic safety enforcement programs and activities.
The payback for expanding partnerships is well worth
There are many excellent examples of positive
- Enforcement/Adjudication Collaboration
(state vehicle administrators, traffic safety
resource prosecutors, local prosecutors, and judges):
These professionals have worked together in many
jurisdictions to identify paperwork issues, address
workload and plea bargain issues, expand BAC
testing, and improve case preparation and quality.
- Enforcement/Community Collaboration
(business leaders, community leaders,
organizations, minority leaders, alcohol and drug
abuse treatment and health agencies, and
advocacy groups such as MADD): These
professionals have collaborated to generate support
for enforcement efforts, provide increased visibility
during special mobilization efforts, obtain additional
resources for special projects (like DUI Courts),
promote prosecutor training, and establish
community standards of expectations in addressing
the impaired driving violator.
Strategies and Promising Practices
There are many other resources and partnerships
that have been successful. For example:
- Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutors (TSRP)
- A NHTSA priority.
- As of 2006, there are 25 TSRPs.
- The best TSRPs train and work with law
enforcement officers and prosecutors.
- Fatal Crash Teams (FACT teams go by different
names in different jurisdictions)
- Traffic homicide detectives and prosecutors
respond as a team to all felony fatal
- King County, Washington, and many
Indiana jurisdictions employ FACT teams.
- Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT)
- A collaboration between the Washington
State Patrol and the Washington State
Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
- The agencies jointly investigate all fatality
crashes where three or more people are
- “24/7” on-call prosecutors (general and specialized)
- Miami-Dade County, Florida State
Attorney’s Office provides “around-theclock”
legal assistance to law enforcement
officers and others.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE COLLABORATION
- The Harris County (Texas) District Attorney’s
Office also provides around-the-clock
- Tele-warrant partnerships between law enforcement,
prosecutors, and judges.
- Arizona prosecutors, law enforcement
officers, and judges established a system to
allow officers to quickly and easily obtain
warrants to draw blood in DUI cases.
- In some jurisdictions, prosecutors and toxicologists
attend and participate in law
enforcement trainings and sobriety checkpoints
and do ride-a-longs. In many of these
jurisdictions, law enforcement officers, in turn,
participate in prosecutor trainings (see
Appendix C for a listing of potential partners).
System Wide Collaborations
- Strategic Highway Safety Planning
Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP) should be
regularly reviewed and updated. The American
Association of State Highway Transportation Officials
(AASHTO) has encouraged all state Departments of
Transportation (DOTs) to engage their state highway
safety offices and their state and local law
enforcement in the development of the SHSP. If law
enforcement executives from all levels were not
involved in the original development of their state’s
SHSP, they should contact their DOT and urge they
be involved in any review/update process that takes
- Florida’s Statewide Technical Advisory Committee
on DUI Enforcement and Prosecution
Florida’s diverse TAC demonstrates how a
system-wide collaboration can achieve tremendous
change. In 1994, several stakeholders, led by the
Institute of Police Technology and Management
(IPTM) and the Florida Department of Transportation,
created the Technical Review Committee to
promote the use of laser speed-measuring devices in
the state. The organizers welcomed law enforcement
officers and prosecutors to the group. The task
force was so effective that members expanded the
committee’s scope to include all traffic issues and
invited other stakeholders “to the table,” including
representatives from the state agency regulating
breath testing (the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement), MADD, toxicologists, and judges. They
renamed the Committee the Technical Advisory
Committee on DUI Enforcement and Prosecution
During the ensuing years, TAC created several
subcommittees, including DUI Case Preparation, In-
Car Video, Sobriety Checkpoints, DUI Law Update,
Breath Testing, Legislative, Youth & Alcohol, and
Bureau of Administrative Review and expanded to
almost 30 members. The committee coordinates
activities statewide by:
- Identifying new problems and solutions;
- Developing new legislation;
- Monitoring case development; and
- Promoting education and enforcement waves.
This Washington State Patrol (WSP) Mobile Impaired Driving Unit (MIDU) was purchased and equipped through a collaborative partnership between the WSP, Washington State Traffic Safety Commission; Poulsbo RV; State Farm Insurance; and several other companies that provided equipment or other services.
The MIDU is equipped with three BAC Compact Data Masters; a dark room for DRE Evaluations; three computer work stations for officers to prepare their reports; and two prisoner holding cells.
For information regarding the MIDU, contact the WSP Impaired Driving Section at (206) 720-3018.
The committee has published manuals on case
preparation and testimony, coordinated responses
on all major legal challenges, and addressed numerous
Associations and other advocacy organizations
that support improving highway safety initiatives,
including reducing the incidences of driving while
impaired (e.g., AAMVA, GHSA, and AAA).
- Chamber of Commerce
They clearly have a stake in a safe community:
highway safety is good for business and tourism
growth. Solicit and encourage their active partnership.
- Community Improvement Districts (CIDs)/
Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) These private authorities are comprised of groups
of property owners committed to business growth
through improved quality of life issues. They have a
direct interest in the safety of the community.
To eliminate impaired driving, we must augment
our enforcement efforts with education. In order to
reach every driver with our message on the dangers
and consequences of impaired driving, we must use
as many resources as possible. One of the most
valuable resources we have available to us is the
media. Television, radio, and print media reach far
more people than we can ever hope to reach
through safety talks and presentations. This can
have a tremendous impact on our citizens and
encourage them to be responsible.
Private Sector Collaborations
Strong vocal support and active participation
from various segments of the private sector are
critical to achieving significant reductions in
impaired driving and related crashes. We must
actively seek their support and participation.
Who are the stakeholders in the private sector?
Support should be sought from traditional and nontraditional
- Advocacy Groups Advocacy groups, including state, regional, and
local MADD affiliates. Don’t assume that every
advocate is going to contact law enforcement; they
may be waiting for our invitation.
- Insurance Carriers In addition to corporate support, seek assistance
of local agents who aggressively support highway
safety issues within their coverage areas. Consider
asking this group to assist with public information and
- Advertising Seek both responsible advertising and public
information assistance from advertisers who are
willing to promote safe driving.
- Automotive/Motorcycle Dealerships Encourage dealerships to sponsor safe driving
campaigns, child safety seat clinics, and antiimpaired
- Alcohol Beverage Industry We must bring them to the table, seek their input,
and help find solutions collaboratively, where
possible. All levels of this industry should be involved,
including the distillers, brewers, distributors,
proprietors, and servers.
An identified highway safety champion must call
the first meeting and serve as a catalyst. The
Subcommittee recommends that stakeholders
employ the following tactics and strategies:
Promote traffic law enforcement as a version of
the “Broken Windows” theory.
|Photo courtesy of Rowan County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office
- Traffic law enforcement increases overall
criminal interdiction and reduces overall
crime rights via general deterrence.
- Drug trafficking
- Gun possession
- Identity theft
- Terrorism interdiction
- Develop a catch name/phrase.
- For example, “Traffic with a purpose.”
- Promote deterrence through proven programs,
- Sobriety checkpoints
- Saturation patrols
- Roving patrols
- Public education combined with enforcement
- Expansion of state Drug Recognition Expert
- “Keg-buster” and other underage drinking
education and enforcement programs
- Create state and local multi-disciplinary TACs
that meet regularly and address current and
- Provide multi-disciplinary training that provides
continuing education credits, whenever possible.
- Online/electronic multi-disciplinary training that
provides continuing education credits, whenever
- Create listserves or Yahoo groups.
- Systems that allow for the quick, efficient,
and free sharing of information.
- Support proven prevention efforts.
- Prevention is preferable to punishment. It’s
better to prevent a fatality than prosecute
the person responsible for it.
- Support treatment and rehabilitation.
- Engage treatment professionals.
- Work with dedicated DUI/DWI courts.
- Support brief screening and intervention efforts.
- Physicians and other medical professionals
who are likely to encounter impaired
people (especially emergency room
employees) should screen them for alcohol
and/or drug problems and offer assistance.
- Research demonstrates that the
majority of injuries requiring emergency
treatment are alcohol- and/or drugrelated.
- Include multiple disciplines in major crash
investigations, including law enforcement,
prosecutors, hospitals (to ensure that proper
samples are obtained for testing purposes),
toxicologists, medical examiners, state data
system recorders (to improve Fatal Analysis
Reporting System [FARS] data), and others.
- Encourage prosecutors to include arresting
officers and victims in their plea negotiations.
- When prosecutors include law enforcement
officers or victims, it makes them feel like
their opinions matter and improves relationships.
- Encourage prosecutors to aggressively
enforce impaired driving laws.
- Promote a policy of not reducing charges
of people who provide admissible samples
registering 0.08 or above.
- Promote court monitoring.
- Court monitoring helps improve criminal
- When the system does not work properly
(and change is not being discussed), law
enforcement officers understandably become
frustrated and enforcement
- The goals of court monitoring are:
- To compile statistics on how DUI cases
- To make those involved in the process
aware there is public interest in the
outcome of such cases.
- To report compiled data to relevant
entities so the system can be improved.
- Engage minority leaders.
- Seek their assistance in informing their
constituents about pending checkpoints,
mobilizations, and crackdowns.
- Work with them on defined problems and
find information-driven solutions to the
- Develop a strategy that focuses on
outreach to minority youth to reduce
- Increases trust and communication
between law enforcement and youth).
- As much as possible, law enforcement
should work with non-profits, businesses,
churches, and other organizations to
provide public safety education and
presentations to members of the community.
- Builds better community relationships.
- Encourages positive traffic safety
- Use statistics more effectively to build
- Develops and provides accurate, timely
information about criminal traffic
behavior and collision trends to officers,
allowing them to act on data, not race.
- Communicates to the community that
police profile behavior, not race.
- Work with local minority organizations for
recruitment of officers from the minority
- Law enforcement must focus on
recruiting officers who reflect the
diversity of the communities they serve.
Lasting partnerships and collaborations are a
proven method for sharing resources, acquiring
needed assistance, and streamlining processes and
important mechanisms for generating new ideas
and innovative ways to use resources more
HURDLES TO REFORM
America will have the DUI problem it chooses to
have. We know how to solve the problem, but face
numerous obstacles. There has been a lack of
unified leadership and resolve. Public and private
partnerships can resolve this deficiency. IACP,
MADD, and NHTSA can and will fill the leadership
void by engaging other stakeholders and working
together to overcome the hurdles we face.
Some of the challenges we must overcome
- Years of insufficient resources.
- Differing leadership priorities by jurisdiction.
- Differing needs of urban and rural jurisdictions.
- Poorly written, loophole-ridden, or unenforceable
- A judiciary that struggles to define itself and
maintain its objectivity in the face of aggressive
- An organized DUI defense bar more concerned
with “winning a case” than with the carnage on
our streets and highways.
- Appellate court decisions that hinder impaired
Each state and jurisdiction needs to actively
identify what their hurdles to success are, develop
the necessary plans to address them, establish the
partnerships necessary to overcome them,
implement the plans, regularly examine the results (and revise the process as required), and repeat the
Summing it up…
- Law enforcement agencies should share best practices and resources with each other to promote consistency and to enhance working relationships.
- Inter-disciplinary partnerships can break traditional boundaries, provide broadbased support, amplify available resources, and establish shared ownership.
- Examples of inter-disciplinary partnerships include collaboration between law enforcement and prosecutors, community organizations, and business leaders.
- Toxicologists should collaborate by sharing knowledge, addressing complicated issues, and further developing expertise.
- System-wide collaborations can create other opportunities, such as Strategic Highway Safety Planning efforts. Summing it up…