1. INTRODUCTION

PROJECT BACKGROUND

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems data, as reported in the 2001 state of the knowledge report (Jones and Lacey, 2001), show that nationwide in 1982, approximately 58% of all fatalities were alcohol-related fatalities. This means that the driver had a BAC level of .01 or higher. That percentage declined to approximately 43% by 1994. However, this percentage has flattened out in recent years, and the most recent FARS data indicates 41% of fatalities in 2001 were alcohol-related.

Despite the fact that there were nearly 1.5 million DWI arrests in 2002, it is estimated that there is only one arrest for every 88 incidents of a person driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit (Zador, 2001). Two reasons that are often cited for why there are not more arrests, are the complexity of the DWI arrest process, and the length of time the officer must devote to processing the offender and completing the paperwork (Jones, Lacey, and Wiliszowski, 1998).

The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of the enforcement program targeting alcohol-impaired drivers in Austin, Texas. In 1998, the Austin police department modified their DWI enforcement program to address public safety and procedural problems they were experiencing.

ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT

Chapter 2 describes a program undertaken by the Austin Police Department in Austin, Texas to improve the effectiveness of its anti-DWI enforcement operation. Included are a description of that agency and the evolution of its special anti-DWI enforcement unit, and the de-tails of the procedures that were followed in enforcing DWI laws. Chapter 3 presents the details of our assessment of the program’s effect on anti-DWI enforcement activity and estimates the program’s impact on alcohol-related fatal crashes within the city. Conclusions and recommendations are presented in Chapter 4.