It is understood that law enforcement cannot solve the impaired driving problem alone. Clearly, we must work effectively in collaboration with, and in support of, our partners and stakeholders. This is why an entire section of this publication is dedicated to Partnerships and Collaborations.

However, it is critical that law enforcement leaders prioritize activities aimed at reducing incidents of impaired driving and related crashes that too often result in fatalities and disabling injuries.

As law enforcement leaders at national, state, and local levels, we must deliver a clear and consistent message of support and encouragement for strengthened enforcement initiatives.

It is acknowledged that most law enforcement agencies are dealing with increased demands, less staff, and reduced funding. We must continually and effectively motivate our officers through leadership and clear direction of the need to prioritize traffic law enforcement. Why? In addition to the potential to significantly reduce impaired driving and related crashes, there is unlimited potential for another positive consequence—CRIME REDUCTION.

In the 1990s, many law enforcement agencies focused on “the little things” and adapted the “Fixing Broken Windows” strategy to their goals and objectives2. By quickly addressing seemingly insignificant crimes, law enforcement deterred people from committing larger crimes and drove down the general crime rate3. We should apply the same strategy to traffic law enforcement. The jurisdictions that have implemented this strategy have experienced tremendous success.

More citizens formally encounter law enforcement through traffic stops than by any other means. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2002 that almost 17 million citizens encounter law enforcement officers during traffic stops or investigations (this represented approximately 40% of all officer-civilian contacts!4). By prioritizing traffic law enforcement, we cannot only curtail impaired driving, we will reduce crime overall.

Institutionalize your commitment by incorporating traffic safety goals into your department’s strategic plan. In addition to including relevant goals and objectives, require and track performance measures, such as DUI arrests (output measures), in support of the reduction of traffic fatalities and injuries (outcome measures).

The IACP Highway Safety Committee supports the following actions that would assist law enforcement leaders in renewing our collective efforts to significantly reduce impaired driving:

  • Encourage law enforcement member agencies to revisit their policies and goals regarding impaired driving.

  • Encourage the State Association of Chiefs of Police (SACOP) to endorse, publicize, and aggressively seek participation by their members in sustained high-visibility impaired driving enforcement.

  • Institute management and personnel accountability systems specific to crash and enforcement activity (e.g., TrafficStat, Strategic Advancement Forums5).

  • Ensure that enforcement of impaired driving is an agency priority mission. Provide officers with the time, training, and tools required to perform this mission as effectively as possible.

  • Create state, regional, and local DUI enforcement task forces that will produce increased high-visibility enforcement. Increased enforcement should be directly tied to NHTSA’s new National Crackdown Plan (see Appendix B for the NHTSA Web address).

  • Law enforcement agencies should actively pursue alternate funding sources to support DUI enforcement, training, and equipment. Potential sources include:

    • Federal, state, and local grants
    • Insurance companies
    • Local civic groups
    • State-level legislation for dedicated DUI cost recovery funding to arresting agencies
    • Private corporations
    • Not-for-profit groups

For additional information on funding, see the IACP’s Highway Safety Deskbook6.

  • Encourage the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST) to continue its endorsement of the use of NHTSA’s standardized field sobriety test training as part of all post-mandated curriculum and to join in a renewed effort to ensure that all levels of law enforcement training contain a solid emphasis on impaired driving enforcement strategies, tactics, and techniques.

  • Encourage the FBI National Academy law enforcement leadership program to include traffic law enforcement management in its curriculum.

  • Support technology development. The most current technology and development of new technology can further reduce impaired driving and assist in detecting those who do drive impaired.

  • Institute awards and recognition.

    • IACP Law Enforcement Challenge
    • State-Level Awards
    • Agency-Level Awards
    • www.madd.org/madd_programs/10287 contains information on law enforcement recognition programs.


Each year, alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost about $51 billion.

Source: Blincoe 2002


Awards and Recognition

Recognition for a job well done is fundamental to achieving positive reinforcement and promotion of agency goals and objectives. This is especially true in law enforcement disciplines such as traffic safety, where tasks are repetitive and sometimes tedious, and the connection between the enforcement action (ticket or summons) and the outcome (lives saved) may not be readily apparent. Law enforcement executives are usually quick to praise the officer who apprehends a fleeing suspect in an assault or homicide, but often neglect to provide such praise to the officers who routinely prevent the perpetration of such crimes in an automobile. Officers who actively enforce impaired driving laws are preventing assaults and homicides and deserve praise and recognition for their efforts. This type of recognition promotes similar behavior among other officers.

In addition to internal recognition, a variety of highway safety organizations provide recognition for outstanding impaired driving enforcement efforts by individual officers and their agencies. These awards programs enhance self-esteem with the department and are invaluable to promoting community relations and public support for the department.

National-Level Awards
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Law Enforcement Challenge is a competition among similar sizes and types of law enforcement agencies. It recognizes and rewards the best overall traffic safety programs in the United States. The areas of concentration include efforts to enforce laws and educate the public about occupant protection, impaired driving, and speeding. Agencies submit an application that documents their efforts and effectiveness in these areas. The winning safety programs are those that combine officer training, public information, and enforcement to reduce crashes and injuries within its jurisdiction. Further information can be found online at www.theiacp.org/awards/NLEC.

State-Level Awards
Law enforcement officials seeking recognition for their departments or officers should investigate the available state-level awards programs in which they can participate. A variety of awards are presented to agencies and individuals at the state level. These awards vary greatly from state to state as to eligibility, application, and host agencies, but law enforcement executives and their impaired driving enforcement programs can benefit greatly by participating in these awards programs. In many states, the programs are a state version of the IACP Law Enforcement Challenge.

Agency-Level Awards
Law enforcement leaders should recognize the efforts of their officers who contribute significantly to reducing impaired driving through both internal recognition and by submitting those officers to local service clubs and their state MADD executive director for possible recognition.


It is difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish substantial improvements in reducing incidents of impaired driving and related crashes without strong support of our government leaders. Successful strategies targeting impaired driving must have support from all levels of government. National, state, county, municipal, and Tribal leaders must be lobbied for legislative, financial, and moral support.

photo - sobriety checkpoint
Photo courtesy of the New York State Police

At the federal level, the Secretary of Transportation and Attorney General’s Office have identified impaired driving as a core enforcement priority. In 2005, Congress passed the landmark Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), signed into law by President Bush on August 10, 2005. SAFETEA-LU provides unprecedented funding for traffic safety initiatives that focus on driver behavior. SAFETEA-LU also provides an impetus for multi-disciplinary cooperation by requiring the states to bring together all relevant stakeholders to develop a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).

Likewise, governors, legislators, mayors, county managers, city managers, and local governing bodies have a major role in reshaping the public perception of what is acceptable in their communities. At every opportunity, we must assist them in developing and delivering a clear, consistent message: “Impaired driving is unacceptable.”

The Highway Safety Committee, Impaired Driving Subcommittee, supports the following actions in engaging our government leaders to address the impaired driving problem:

  • Contact the State’s Highway Safety Office; ask that current crash and enforcement data be sent to various levels of governmental leadership to establish baselines and benchmarks for state and local governments.

  • Announce statewide goals for active participation in enforcement campaigns that coincide with national initiatives and public information and education programs.

  • Work with your state chiefs’ and sheriffs’ associations and highway safety offices to encourage state legislatures to pass effective laws that are reasonable and enforceable.

  • Identify a key individual (e.g., state senator, member of Congress) who will champion law enforcement efforts. Formally recognize this person’s efforts.

  • Solicit local and county government leaders for support of law enforcement efforts. Consistent support of enforcement strategies will send a clear message that chiefs and sheriffs have the support of their government leaders.


Technological advancements have been made in both law enforcement and automotive safety in recent years. A variety of automotive interlock sensors and other passive devices are currently under development to prevent impaired drivers from jeopardizing safety. Similarly, advances in fields of medicine, engineering, and micro-electronics hold great promise in eradicating impaired driving in the near future.

exclamation markSumming it up…

  • Prioritize activities aimed at reducing impaired driving.

  • Deliver a clear and consistent message of support and encouragement.

  • Apply the “Fixing Broken Windows” strategy to traffic law enforcement.

  • Use statistics to ensure that resources are applied where they are needed most.

  • Institute management and personnel accountability.

  • Create state, regional, and local impaired driving enforcement task forces to increase the visibility of enforcement.

  • Use standardized field sobriety test training as part of all post-mandated curricula.

  • Support technology development.

  • Institute award and recognition programs.