After seeing impressive reductions in total traffic fatalities and those involving impaired driving in the late 1980s and early 1990s, most states are now making nominal gains, while others are losing ground in their battle to eliminate deaths and injuries caused by impaired drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the U.S. in 2004, 16,694 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol, representing 39% of the 42,636 people killed in all traffic crashes. Based on early estimates, NHTSA projects a nearly 2% increase in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2005. These crashes cost our society over $100 billion annually, including approximately $51 billion in monetary costs and $63 billion in quality-of-life losses1. Furthermore, research indicates that alcohol is not the only part of the impaired driving problem. Drugs alone—or in combination with alcohol, both prescription and illicit—are increasingly being found in chemical tests of at-fault drivers in fatal and injury crashes. Law enforcement is only now becoming proficient at detecting the drug-impaired driver and collecting data that reflects the nature and extent of drug impairment in crashes.

In 2005, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Highway Safety Committee established the Impaired Driving Subcommittee (IDSC) to work with NHTSA, the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA), and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to determine how we can substantially reduce impaired driving in the United States and Canada, and the associated traffic fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving. The IDSC is made up of 20 safety experts from government, law enforcement, and MADD.

The IDSC developed a mission statement to steer them toward the desired outcome of this project:

The IACP Highway Safety Committee's Impaired Driving Subcommittee will provide recommendations to substantially reduce impaired driving traffic fatalities and injuries through enhanced enforcement.

The Subcommittee then decided on two deliverables. The first is this Guidebook that is intended to serve as a guide to law enforcement executives on how to most effectively renew their efforts to eliminate impaired driving on our roadways. The second deliverable is an IACP Resolution. The Resolution ( Appendix A ) was approved by the Highway Safety Committee at its mid-year meeting in June 2006 and forwarded to the IACP for adoption during the 2006 IACP annual meeting in October. Using this Resolution as a model, the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) adopted a similar resolution at their annual meeting in June 2006.

The Subcommittee came to agreement that success lies in three key areas, and this Guidebook has a section dedicated to each:

  • Law Enforcement Leadership;
  • Criminal Justice Collaboration; and
  • Effective Communication Strategies.

Instead of working independently toward a common goal, IACP, NHTSA, MADD, NSA, GHSA, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), and other key stakeholders have forged an alliance and are more closely coordinating their efforts to create a synergy to help us eliminate impaired driving. The immediate goal is to meet NHTSA's 1.0 deaths per million miles traveled benchmark, followed by ultimately attaining our goal of zero deaths on our state, provincial, county, local, and Tribal highways, streets, and roads.