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ISSUE ONE: Criminal Justice Summit on Impaired Driving: What's Happened and What's Next?

What's Next?

  • Seek top federal level leadership on the issue of impaired driving.  The example of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy was given and how it has shed national light on drug abuse through its national media campaigns.
  • Use the National Criminal Justice Association's role as a national catalyst or convener of the criminal justice system to help maintain the dialogue among the justice system components and facilitate cross professional partnership building around the issue of impaired driving.
  • Develop a national DWI database that integrates existing state and local databases, to help provide better access to driving records and prior arrest information.
  • Implement demonstration projects to help address interoperability of paperless systems—many exist, but they do not "talk" to each other.  Standards must be developed for data sharing.
  • The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) should create a guide on impaired driving and community relations, similar to a guide that was developed on seat belt use, and market it to police chiefs.
  • Implement demonstration projects to address redundancy in arrest procedures and the unnecessary paper work involved in DWI cases.
  • Explore new technology and develop standards for law enforcement to help reduce paper work and processing time.
  • Explore technology and increase law enforcement training to detect polydrug users.
  • Increase law enforcement staffing in traffic safety, especially with those who are trained in administering breath tests.
  • Develop a multidisciplinary curriculum and involve prosecutors, law enforcement and judges.
  • Include input from prosecutors and the courts on efforts to streamline paperwork involved in DWI cases.
  • Explore streamlining administrative license revocation/suspension (ALR/ALS) hearings. 
  • Develop performance measures for the courts to expedite case processing.
  • Strengthen efforts to detect those driving with suspended and revoked licenses and remove them from the roads.
  • Increase outreach to the Hispanic community to raise awareness of drinking and driving.
  • Tap resources in the emergency medical community that can help with detection of DWI offenders and referrals to treatment.
  • Research strategies for establishing judicial notice of breath testing devices.

The November 2002 Criminal Justice Summit on Impaired Driving was held to identify gaps, problems and challenges in the criminal justice system in the handling of impaired drivers; to devise innovative solutions and strategies for increasing efficiency within the criminal justice system; and to develop implementation plans for action steps and the commitment of resources to better address the issues.  Out of this meeting, recommendations emerged for strong, sustained leadership to bring the issue of impaired driving to the forefront of the national agenda, and for increased collaboration within and outside the criminal justice system to effectively address the challenge of impaired driving. (The final report is available online at imJustSum-HTML/images/ CrimJustSum.pdf).

The participants reported in this plenary session on the steps taken since the Criminal Justice Summit.  The initiatives of the criminal justice organizations represented were shared. Recommendations also were made for what should happen next to help increase system efficiency for handling impaired drivers.

A major outcome of this discussion was the reported increase in visibility of impaired driving, as is evident by the number of local and regional initiatives implemented or reenergized since the summit; however, much more needs to be done to bring awareness of the issue to the national level and to increase system efficiency for handling impaired drivers

What Happened in Law Enforcement?

  • The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST) adopted NHTSA's standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) as the standard for detection of impaired drivers.
  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) expanded its traffic safety efforts and provided national leadership in areas of drunk and drugged driving.
  • IACP's Highway Safety Committee has formed a Law Enforcement Stops and Safety (LESSS) Subcommittee to explore better ways to ensure officer safety during traffic stops and other roadside contacts, including addressing the rising number of law enforcement officers being killed in collisions involving impaired drivers.
  • IACP is developing voice recognition software to streamline paperwork and processing of DWI offenders.
  • The National Liquor Law Enforcement Association in collaboration with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) completed an analysis of 12 legal policies pertaining to underage drinking and impaired driving.  The study looked at variations in how these laws are implemented in the states and assessed the effectiveness of these laws on prevention and treatment.

What Happened in Prosecution?

  • The American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI) has several traffic safety initiatives, including:
    • Efforts to establish traffic safety resource prosecutors (TSRP) in each state; 10 states currently have these positions.  The TSRP provides research, training and technical assistance to local prosecutors for the prosecution of impaired driving cases. Under this initiative, APRI's National Traffic Law Center (NTLC) and the National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators (NAPC) are planning the first ever conference for traffic safety resource prosecutors.
    • The NTLC created joint training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors called, "Protecting Lives, Saving Futures."  This training model involves the prosecutors and law enforcement officers "trading spaces" to gain a better understanding of how DWI cases are developed from detection, arrest and prosecution.
    • The NTLC's efforts to develop standards and performance measures for prosecuting DWI cases.
  • The NAPC described the following efforts:
    • A renewed emphasis on DWI training for prosecutors, which now includes a new training program entitled the DUI Visual Trial.
    • An examination of new technologies to electronically administer the Horizontal Gaze Nystamus (HGN) test.
    • An Internet alcohol education course for high school students, being piloted in Miami, Florida, in collaboration with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

What Happened in the Courts?

  • The "rocket docket" has been developed and used in court systems to expedite court cases and help eliminate court backlogs.  In some traffic courts, the rocket docket has minimized continuances and reduced the time for toxicology reports from four months to 30 days. The rocket docket in some courts also provides the ability to conduct video testimony and authorizes court officers to use Portable Breath Testing (PBT) devices.
  • The National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) is seeking national support for DWI/Drug Courts.  Two initiatives are working toward this end:
    • In collaboration with NHTSA, NDCI will hold a training series on DWI/drug courts in the NHTSA regions.  They hope to market the concept to public policy leaders in NHTSA's regions and to implement a DWI/Drug Court in several jurisdictions.
    • In collaboration with MADD, NDCI is seeking to formalize support to promote DWI/Drug Courts.
    • The Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators are developing best practices in problem solving courts.
  • The National Judicial College (NJC) in collaboration with NHTSA developed "Courage to Live," a program designed to educate junior high and high school students of the consequences of drinking and driving.  It was developed by a cadre of judges, school administrators and teachers.
  • In 2004, NJC will offer training to judges on effective sentencing of DWI offenders and training for administrative law judges designed to enhance professional skills, increase knowledge of substantive law and improve technical and management skills.
  • The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) are developing functional standards for traffic case management systems.  The NCSC and AAMVA also collaborated on a symposium that included representatives from the courts, DMV, and law enforcement on improving communication among the three systems.  The symposium was focused on "roadside ticketing," including what happens to the summons as it proceeds through the court system and, ultimately, back to the DMV for placement in the individual's driving record.