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Four basic strategies are used to reduce impaired-driving crashes and driving under the influence.

  • Deterrence: enact, publicize, enforce, and adjudicate laws prohibiting impaired driving so people choose not to drive impaired;
  • Prevention: reduce drinking and drug use and keep impaired drivers from driving;
  • Communications and outreach: inform the public of the dangers of impaired driving and establish positive social norms that make driving while impaired unacceptable; and
  • Alcohol and drug treatment: reduce alcohol and drug dependency or addiction among drivers.

Impaired-driving deterrence countermeasures are divided into four sections in this chapter: (1) laws, (2) enforcement, (3) prosecution and adjudication, and (4) offender treatment, monitoring, and control. Prevention, intervention, communications, and outreach countermeasures are combined in a single section. Finally, the Underage Drinking and Drinking section includes deterrence, prevention, and communications measures specific to this age group.

This chapter also briefly considers countermeasures to address drugs other than alcohol. Drugs pose quite different and difficult issues at every step, from estimating their prevalence and effect on driving, to developing effective laws and strategies for enforcement, prevention, and treatment. However, many countermeasures to address alcohol-impaired driving may also deter drug-impaired driving.

Many other traffic safety countermeasures help reduce alcohol- and drug-impaired driving-related crashes and casualties, but are not discussed in this chapter. Some vehicular strategies may help detect or prevent impaired driving. For example, NHTSA has studied the feasibility of using vehicle-based sensors to detect alcohol-impaired drivers (Lee et al., 2010). The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS; see program is a collaborative research partnership between the automotive industry and NHTSA to assess and develop alcohol-detection technologies to prevent vehicles from being driven when driver BACs exceed the illegal limit of .08 g/dL. There are also many environmental countermeasures such as improved vehicle structures and centerline rumble strips and barriers that may reduce the likelihood of crashes and/or injuries sustained by impaired drivers and passengers. However, vehicular and environmental countermeasures are not included in this chapter because State Highway Safety Offices have little or no authority or responsibility for them. These typically come under the jurisdiction of local, State, or Federal highway departments.