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Stop impaired driving before deadly summer season: Partnership launches online resource, law enforcement reform agenda



Under embargo until May 27, 15:30 EDT


May 27, 2020 (Arlington, VA) – Criminal justice and highway safety experts launched new tools today (Wednesday) that identify the factors putting Americans at highest risk from impaired drivers, recommend law enforcement reforms needed to make roads safer, and help the general public understand how to improve the complicated impaired driving legal system.

Nearly 30 Americans are killed by impaired drivers every day, and summer is the deadliest season.  The STOP High-Risk Impaired Drivers (STOP HRID) Expert Panel concluded that while every impaired driver is a high risk on our roadways, Americans face an increased risk of death and injury from impaired drivers who:

  1. Combine multiple drugs or drugs and alcohol.

While drug-impaired driving is estimated to have risen sharply in recent years, limited drug testing obscures the scope of the problem.  In 2016, 50.5 % of fatally injured, drug-positive drivers had two or more drugs in their system.

 Drive with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels above 0.15.

More than 60% of impaired driving deaths are caused by impaired drivers with BAC above 0.15.

 Repeatedly drive while impaired.

Research estimates one in four arrested and about one-third of those convicted for DUI are repeat offenders. (NHTSA, 2014) and the Governors Highway Safety Association will award nearly $250,000 in grants to help states implement STOP HRID programs and reforms to improve:

  • Identification: Every impaired driving offender should be screened for substance use and mental health disorders.


  • Assessment: If the screening reveals a need, impaired driving offenders should be assessed substance use and mental health disorders and likelihood to reoffend. Two-thirds of all impaired driving offenders will not reoffend and require different treatment, sentencing, and monitoring than the 1/3 of offenders who are repeat offenders and require the most intensive interventions.


  • Sentencing: Impaired driving cases are amongst the legal system’s most complex and difficult cases, from arrest to adjudication and beyond. Collaboration and reform across the system will help ensure offenses are adjudicated effectively and that the most intensive interventions are utilized for the highest-risk offenders.


  • Monitoring: Impaired drivers should be monitored to effectively reduce repeat offenses. Existing technology should be fully utilized in all states to STOP HRID. CEO Chris Swonger commented:

“Sadly, summer is the deadliest season for Americans when it comes to impaired driving.  The Fourth of July is second only to New Year’s Day as the single deadliest day due to impaired driving.

This summer, as Americans begin to return to their routines and manage the consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and our partners in the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) are determined to make safer roads the new normal.” 

Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of the GHSA commented:

“Every impaired driver presents a danger to themselves and others, but high-risk impaired drivers account for a disproportionate number of fatalities,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Taking an individualized and holistic approach to the problem by identifying and treating the cause of the offender’s behavior is essential for reducing recidivism and promoting long-term behavior change.”

Leading experts endorse STOP HRID:

The Honorable Michael Barrasse, President Judge, Court of Common Pleas, Lackawanna County (PA)

“STOP HRID is based on court practices that reduce recidivism by 60%, by focusing the most intensive interventions on the impaired drivers who present the highest risk to themselves and others.  Approaches like these help courts provide intense supervision and individualized treatment that change offenders’ behavior, save taxpayers’ money, and ultimately save lives.”

Chief Steven Casstevens, Buffalo Grove Police Department (IL) and President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police

“Law enforcement officers too often see heartbreak on our roads when impaired drivers put others in harm’s way.  Every impaired driver is a danger, and it is critical for the law enforcement officers on the front line to be fully trained and equipped to identify and assess the greatest risks.”

Joanne Thomka, Director, National District Attorneys Association, National Traffic Law Center

“Impaired driving cases are often assigned to the least experienced prosecutors, despite being amongst the legal system’s most complex and difficult to adjudicate, sentence, and monitor. The state-of-the-art STOP HRID digital hub provides practical, evidence-based tools to help road safety, legal, and treatment professionals effectively detect and deter the highest-risk impaired drivers.”


Press contact: [email protected], 202-251-5144

Editor’s notes:

About is a national not-for-profit that aims to eliminate drunk driving and work with others to end all impaired driving, eliminate underage drinking, and empower adults to make a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices as part of a balanced lifestyle. is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; DIAGEO; Edrington, Mast-Jägermeister US, Inc.; Moët Hennessy USA; and Pernod Ricard USA. For 29 years, has transformed countless lives through programs that bring individuals, families, and communities together to inspire a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices. To learn more, please visit

About GHSA: The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a non-profit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.


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