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Law Enforcement Programs & Interventions

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program, with input from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Technical Advisory Panel, and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police created the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) program. ARIDE was created to address a significant gap in training between the Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and the DEC program which consist of the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program.

The SFST program trains officers to identify and assess drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol while the DEC Program provides more advanced training to evaluate suspected drug impairment. The SFST assessment is typically employed at roadside, while an officer trained as a drug recognition expert (DRE) through the DEC Program conducts a drug evaluation in a more controlled environment such as a detention facility.

ARIDE is intended to bridge the gap between these two programs by providing officers with general knowledge related to drug impairment and promoting the use of DREs in states that have the DEC Program. One of the most significant aspects of ARIDE is its review and required student demonstration of the SFST proficiency requirements. The ARIDE program also stresses the importance of securing the most appropriate biological sample in order to identify substances likely causing impairment.

The ARIDE curriculum is designed to be delivered as a stand-alone, 16-hour course. The program of instruction is intended for delivery to as many law enforcement officers as possible, preferably twelve to eighteen months after the training academy. The curriculum is designed to help those officers become more proficient at detecting, apprehending, testing, and prosecuting impaired drivers. ARIDE’s subject matter relates to two curriculums, the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Training.

ARIDE offers additional information to law enforcement officers on detecting impairment caused by more than just alcohol. Oftentimes law enforcement officers that have not received advanced or in-service training regarding drug impairment tend to not be able to identify these characteristics; therefore, they may release an impaired driver. Once an officer completes the training, they will be more proficient with the three SFST’s (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and Turn (WAT), and One Leg Stand (OLS)), as well as possess a broader knowledge of drug impairment indicators. Officers will also be more familiar with the DEC Program and its functions. This will facilitate better communication and transfer of critical roadside indicators of impairment to the evaluating DRE officer for a more complete and accurate assessment of the impairment. Note: ARIDE is advanced training, not a certification.

For more information about ARIDE, contact Joe Abrusci, at [email protected] Eastern IACP DEC Program Project Manager; Jim Maisano, [email protected] Central IACP DEC Program Project Manager; or Chuck Hayes, [email protected] Western IACP DEC Program Project Manager.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( in partnership with the Governors Highway Safety Association provides annual grants to State Highway Safety Offices to support SFTS, ARIDE, and DRE training. Contact Darrin T. Grondel, VP Traffic Safety and Government Relations for - [email protected]

Arizona pioneered law enforcement phlebotomy programs and the state’s initiative, which serves as a model for other jurisdictions, has been active for nearly 25 years. The program is funded through the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) and was conceptualized as a way to address high rates of test refusal in DUI cases. The Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General’s Office collaborated to ensure that existing laws would permit law enforcement officers to draw blood if properly trained. Once it was established that the statute was broad enough, officers underwent training to become certified phlebotomists. By 2000, a specialized 60-hour course was created by Phoenix College specifically for officers and a total of three institutions now offer similar training. While officers who are trained as phlebotomists work primarily on DUI cases, they are also able to assist in other types of criminal investigations.

Since its inception, the law enforcement phlebotomy program has been highly successful. When the program began in 1995, there was a 20% statewide refusal rate and by 2009 this had declined to 6%. In addition to supporting the program, a public awareness campaign was launched to educate the public that officers could obtain blood draws even if suspects refused to submit to chemical testing. The Arizona GOHS continues to fund the program and views it as integral to streamlining DUI investigations. Not only has it led to a reduction in refusals, it also reduces the amount of time it takes to collect a chemical sample as officers no longer have to transport suspects to medical facilities and rely on practitioners to draw blood. More information about Arizona’s model program can be accessed here.

Contact: Alberto Gutier (Director, Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety); [email protected]

In Arizona, the development of the eSearch warrant and eReturn applications for blood draws in DUI cases began in the summer of 2011 in Maricopa County. The following year, the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court in Maricopa County issued an administrative order authorizing a two-year electronic search warrant pilot. Once the eSearch warrant and eReturn applications were made permanent, it was expanded to include all Department of Public Safety (DPS) law enforcement officers across the state to allow them access to the system.

The Maricopa County Superior Court and Phoenix Police Department held three informational sessions with law enforcement to collaborate on the design, development of policies, and implementation of the system. The Superior Court received grants from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to develop the software and enhance the law enforcement officer website to include the return of service. The first grant was provided in the amount of $30,576 to build the software and cover training costs. The second grant was provided by the State Administrative Office of the Courts in the amount of $87,838 to modify the software to enhance the application for use by DPS statewide.

The eSearch warrant application was designed and programmed in-house by the court information technology department as part of the court’s information system. Officers are assigned a serial number to access the application via the Internet. The application includes a series of checkboxes and pull-down menus that allow the officer to indicate the type of offense, qualifications and training, probable cause for the stop, roadside tests administered, suspect behavior, and refusals. Judges receive notice of a pending request and can log onto the system into their “work queue,” which shows affidavits they have received and their status (i.e., new, in progress, completed). The average time to secure an electronic warrant using the Maricopa County system is between 15-20 minutes. Since implementation, there has been a 13% increase in DUI search warrants. In the summer of 2018, the software was modified to allow all 14 counties and all cities in Arizona access to use the DUI eSearch warrant and eReturn applications.

Contact: Detective Brett Campbell (City of Phoenix Police Department, Vehicular Crimes Unit);  [email protected]

Delaware was the first state to implement an integrated criminal justice information system that supported electronic sharing of criminal justice information among the criminal justice community. DELJIS has been in existence since 1983, and it is constantly changing to meet the needs of system participants, including law enforcement. eWarrants was built into the DELJIS platform, making Delaware one of the first states to use automated warrants.

Delaware first implemented an automated warrant system in 1991, allowing law enforcement to enter complaint data through a mainframe system using Microsoft Word fillable forms to create warrants online. DELJIS later converted the Microsoft Word form into a PDF and housed it on its system. The request for adding blood draw eWarrants to DELJIS was accelerated through the issuance of a policy memo by the Chief Magistrate. The design and implementation were a collaboration of the courts, DELJIS, the state prosecutor, and state and local law enforcement. The costs for automating and incorporating warrants into the DELJIS platform were absorbed into the DELJIS budget as a part of routine system improvements. Thus, the primary cost to the state was for equipment to allow law enforcement to access the system remotely.

Law enforcement officers access DELJIS and the eWarrant form with a secure sockets layer (SSL) account through the Internet using laptops, tablets, and desktops. Upon logging into the system, officers enter the suspect’s name and date of birth. The DELJIS system automatically searches for the individual to find additional information including criminal history and can access the state’s department of motor vehicles records. Officers complete the remainder of the request using fillable fields on location of incident, actions of the defendant, statements made, and other facts supporting probable cause. A PDF document is produced, which is then faxed to the on-call judge. The on-call judge swears the officer in via video conference. After review and approval, officers receive the signed PDF via fax. Judges use their bar code as an electronic signature. DUI blood, draw warrants receive priority within the system, and the average turnaround time is approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

Contact: Peggy Bell (Executive Director Delaware Criminal Justice Information System); [email protected]

A drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator (DRE) is a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) coordinates the International Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition to officers, who are certified as DREs, the DEC Program educates prosecutors and toxicologists on the DRE process and the drug categories.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) originated the program in the early 1970s when LAPD officers noticed that many of the individuals arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) had very low or zero alcohol concentrations. The officers reasonably suspected that the arrestees were under the influence of drugs, but lacked the knowledge and skills to support their suspicions. In response, two LAPD sergeants collaborated with various medical doctors, research psychologists, and other medical professionals to develop a simple, standardized procedure for recognizing drug influence and impairment. Their efforts culminated in the development of a multi-step protocol and the first DRE program. The LAPD formally recognized the program in 1979.

The LAPD DRE program attracted NHTSA’s attention in the early 1980s. The two agencies collaborated to develop a standardized DRE protocol, which led to the development of the DEC Program. During the ensuing years, NHTSA and various other agencies and research groups examined the DEC Program. Their studies demonstrated that a properly trained DRE can successfully identify drug impairment and accurately determine the category of drugs causing such impairment.

In 1987, NHTSA initiated DEC pilot programs in Arizona, Colorado, New York and Virginia. The states of Utah, California, and Indiana were added in 1988. Beginning in 1989, IACP and NHTSA expanded the DEC Program across the country. Currently, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and several other countries around the world participate in the DEC Program.

In 1992 the governing board of the International Association of Chiefs of Police approved the creation of the Drug Recognition Section. (For more information on the DRE Section’s mission, goals, and bylaws, click on “Program Oversight.”)

On June 10-13, 1995, the section hosted a training conference on impaired driving in Phoenix, Arizona. Since then the IACP Training Conference on Drugs, Alcohol, and Impaired Driving has convened every year and is attended by DREs, DUI enforcement officers, prosecutors, toxicologists, medical and school professionals, and other highway safety advocates.

For more information about DRE, contact Joe Abrusci, at [email protected] Eastern IACP DEC Program Project Manager; Jim Maisano, [email protected] Central IACP DEC Program Project Manager; or Chuck Hayes, [email protected] Western IACP DEC Program Project Manager.

Idaho initially established a phlebotomy program in 2009. The year prior, the Nampa Police Department instituted a no refusal policy for blood draws in DWI cases and determined that training officers as phlebotomists would help enforce this policy and be the most cost-effective option available. Grant funds were provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to the Nampa Police Department to implement a small-scale program similar to Arizona’s well-established model. The Nampa program began with 10 officers being trained as phlebotomists. The College of Western Idaho provided the training which included 48 hours of pre-course work, 30 hours of class training, and an additional 40 hours of clinical training.

To maximize potential deterrence, the Nampa Police Department worked with the local media to promote the new program and to ensure that accurate information was provided to the public. For example, it was important that people understood that the officers were trained as phlebotomists and that all blood draws that these officers perform are done in a controlled environment. Members of the press were even invited to observe officers completing their training. Following the launch of the program, refusal rates in Nampa have declined and more impaired driving suspects now agree to submit to breath tests.

Idaho’s law enforcement phlebotomy program has since expanded to several other police departments and sheriff offices following the success of the initial rollout in Nampa. Currently, the Caldwell Police Department, Homedale Police Department, Owyhee County Sheriff’s Office, Twin Falls Police Department, Coeur d’Alene Police Department, and Pocatello Police Department all have officers who have completed phlebotomy training.

Contact: Jared Olson (Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor, Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association); [email protected]

In the United States, Michigan became the first state to implement an oral fluid pilot as a result of state legislation (Public Act 243). This legislation was passed following the deaths of Barbara and Thomas Swift who were killed by a drug-impaired commercial driver. Their son, Brian Swift, advocated for the oral fluid legislation to provide law enforcement with tools to identify drivers who are under the influence of drugs and prevent other families from enduring the same tragedy as his own.

The initial pilot was conducted in five counties (Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw) and utilized DREs to administer the oral fluid test as part of their DUI investigation. Another important aspect of the Michigan law is that refusal to submit to an oral fluid test is a civil infraction. In all previous oral fluid pilots, submitting to a test was done on a purely voluntary basis. The refusal penalty was added to compel suspected impaired drivers to provide an oral fluid sample. The Michigan State Police (MSP) was given the authority to develop a written policy and promulgate administrative rules as necessary for the implementation of the program. The pilot ran for one year and the data collected was analyzed and the results of the pilot were released in a report to the state legislature. The recommendation of the Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program Committee was that “the pilot program be expanded for one year to include all DREs in the state of Michigan” as the results were promising but the sample size of 92 tests was deemed too small to make the program permanent.

In December 2018, the Michigan Legislature agreed to support the ongoing funding of the oral fluid pilot and the expansion of the program to additional interested, qualified counties around the state. An appropriation of $626,000 for the extension of the Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program was included in the supplemental funding bill that became Public Act 618. Training for the expanded statewide pilot began in the fall of 2019 with more than 40 participating law enforcement agencies. This pilot will run for a year and upon its completion, another report will be submitted to the legislature. Other states are encouraged to learn lessons from Michigan’s experience. The hope is that if the larger program produces promising results that the legislature and law enforcement agencies will transition from the pilot phase and make the use of oral fluid screening a standard part of impaired driving investigations in Michigan.

Contact: First Lieutenant Shannon Sims (Michigan State Police); [email protected]

In Minnesota, the courts use a statewide electronic charging system, known as e-Charging, for criminal complaints and to move information between law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and the state driver and vehicle services department. In addition to criminal complaints and search warrants, e-Charging is used for electronic citation processing, DWI processing, and law enforcement incident report submission to prosecutors. Minnesota prioritized the development of eSearch warrants for blood draws in DWI cases because in addition to court decisions requiring search warrants for blood or urine tests, the state was experiencing a growing number of legal challenges around blood draws and implied consent. These factors combined with a significant increase in blood draw requests and the challenges to obtaining time-sensitive warrants in rural areas provided the needed impetus for the creation of an electronic system.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) was responsible for the planning, design, and implementation of the eSearch warrant application with a $350,000 grant from the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety. A collaborative group of stakeholders, including law enforcement, the State Court Administrator’s Office, and district court judges, worked together to draft the warrant template. The roll-out of eWarrants for DWIs began in October 2016 with a 3-month pilot program, first with the Minnesota State Police in Hennepin County. By mid-November 2016, eight municipal police departments had been added to the pilot, with successive roll-outs across the state by judicial district. By April 2017, the system had gone statewide.

Officers seeking a warrant for a blood test log onto a secure portal to complete and submit an electronic search warrant application to a judge. The system is designed to interface with Driver and Vehicle Services so that the officer can conduct a search based on name and date of birth to confirm the identity of the suspect and auto-populate the demographic fields (e.g., address; driver’s license) as well as the vehicle information. The on-call judge receives an email with a hyperlink directly to the warrant in the system. After reviewing the warrant, the judge may either issue it by applying an electronic signature or reject the application. Experienced officers typically can prepare warrants in 10 minutes or less, and officers report the average processing time, from submission to judicial approval, is between 15- 20 minutes. Since the eSearch warrant became available, Minnesota law enforcement officers have submitted over 2,500 applications for DWI-related search warrants. Ninety-eight percent of those applications are approved and result in the judge issuing a search warrant. In addition, the error rate on DWI forms has been reduced from 30% to nearly 0%.

Contact: Kent Therkelsen (Product Manager, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension); [email protected]

The refusal of impaired driving suspects to submit to chemical tests is an obstacle in DUI investigations that law enforcement and prosecutors frequently encounter, particularly with individuals who have prior convictions. Many DUI suspects refuse to answer questions, perform standardized field sobriety tests, or provide chemical samples when asked to do so in an effort to hinder the investigation. By refusing to submit to a chemical test, suspects deprive law enforcement of some of the strongest evidence of alcohol impairment. Those who have been through the system in the past know the importance of breath test results and are likely to realize that their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the per se limit (in most instances, well above .08). To deter individuals from refusing to submit to chemical tests, many states have passed laws that attach penalties to test refusal. Unfortunately, in most jurisdictions, these sanctions are far less severe than those associated with a DUI conviction and therefore, impaired drivers have an incentive to refuse a breath test.


The No Refusal program was first implemented in Texas in 2005 to address high rates of test refusal. Law enforcement and prosecutors sought to create a program that enables officers to quickly obtain warrants for blood draws, thereby eliminating the ability of suspects to refuse to submit to tests. The program involves a coordinated effort among law enforcement, judges/magistrates, prosecutors, and medical personnel that facilitates expedited processing of DUI cases. No Refusal nights or weekends are a popular approach that can supplement existing high visibility enforcement initiatives such as sobriety checkpoints or DUI mobilizations. What differentiates the No Refusal program from other mobilizations is the degree of collaboration from key stakeholders. These efforts are coordinated in advance and done so with the intention of streamlining DUI investigations and simultaneously creating general deterrence.


The No Refusal process is simple. Once an officer determines that there is probable cause for a DUI arrest and the suspect refuses to submit to a breath test, the prosecutor assigned to the effort will review the case and make a warrant application to an on-call judge. If the judge grants the warrant (typically over the phone or via other electronic means), a blood sample can be quickly collected by qualified medical personnel who are on-site. In counties that have mobile DUI processing vehicles, the entire process can be handled from start to finish at a checkpoint location. This collaborative and efficient approach ensures that blood draws are performed without delay and assists in building a strong impaired driving case.


Similar to other high visibility enforcement efforts, the No Refusal program is effective due to the general deterrence it creates. To maximize impact, media coverage in advance of No Refusal weekends is necessary. The goal of coverage is two-fold: 1) make the public aware of the increased law enforcement presence, thereby increasing the perception that DUI will result in arrest; and, 2) make the public aware that refusing to submit to a breath test or blood draw will result in law enforcement quickly obtaining a warrant for a forcible blood draw. Furthermore, the public should also be made aware that refusal will only lead to additional sanctions. Stakeholders involved in No Refusal initiatives consistently report that once it becomes apparent that officers can easily obtain a warrant for blood draws, many individuals who initially refuse to provide a breath sample will eventually choose to submit to the less invasive breathalyzer.


Evaluations have revealed that No Refusal programs are successful.  After implementation of the program, Montgomery County reduced refusals at sobriety checkpoints from 50% in 2005 to 10% in 2010 (NHTSA, n.d.). Conviction rates have increased, and DUI case dismissals have decreased since No Refusal Weekends have been implemented in Texas (NHTSA, n.d.). The Phoenix Police Department reported a decrease in the refusal rate from 40% to 5% after implementation of the No Refusal program (Berning et al., 2007). In a study of test refusals effect on DUI prosecutions, Jones and Nichols (2012) found that there was a reasonably strong and negative relationship between the DUI conviction rate in selected study counties and the overall refusal rate for that state. In other words, in states with high refusal rates, DUI conviction rates are likely to be low.


States that have previously/continue to conduct No Refusal nights or weekends include: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, and Utah. In addition, many other states have the legal authority to conduct No Refusal-type programs and could integrate this strategy into existing high visibility enforcement efforts.


Contact: Access the NHTSA No Refusal Weekend Toolkit here -

The state court system introduced an electronic warrant pilot program in the spring of 2008, in response to a court decision (State v. Rodriguez, 156 P.3d 771 (2007)). The Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Salt Lake City District Attorney’s Office, and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), with collaboration from judges, came together to build an eWarrants system to speed up access to warrants in DUI cases. Since more than 90% of state law enforcement is connected to the Utah Criminal Justice Information System (UCJIS), which unifies data from dozens of separate data sources and agencies, the decision was made to incorporate the eWarrants system into the UCJIS platform.

To build the system, a grant of $30,000 was provided to DPS to hire a contractor for the additional programming, which was supplemented with additional JAG funds. Additional and ongoing funding comes from impound fees. Patrol cars in Utah are equipped with computer terminals with Internet capabilities that officers use to log into UCJIS to initiate the warrant request. Each officer has an assigned username and security token that is tied to his/her qualifications and training, allowing the hero statement of the officer’s training and qualifications to be auto-populated. The remainder of the warrant includes both drop-down menus and text fields to streamline the process and reduce errors.

The state uses a rotation system for assigning judges to review warrants. When the officer chooses the jurisdiction and county in which the warrant is being issued, the UCJIS system automatically selects one of the on-call judges. The system then generates a text and email message that is sent to the assigned judge to notify him/her there is a warrant pending review. The penalty of perjury statement eliminates the need for administering the oath in-person or via video call. Thus, upon receipt of the warrant, the judge can promptly review and affix his/her electronic signature if the warrant is approved and return it electronically. The entire process averages 20 minutes from request to judicial approval, although it can take up to an hour. With the implementation of eWarrants, Utah has improved its test submission rate from 77% to 96%. There has also been tremendous buy-in from stakeholders on the use of the electronic warrant system in Utah, especially in rural areas where there is limited access to judges.

Contact: Trooper Jason Marshall (State Drug Recognition Expert Coordinator, Utah Highway Patrol); [email protected]

In 2017, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) provided grant funds to launch a law enforcement phlebotomy pilot program with the Lakewood Police Department. This program began with six officers certified to perform blood draws and within a year, the program had expanded to include the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department with an additional 20 officers receiving certification. In total, WTSC provided close to $150,000 in grant funds to ensure that the region had sufficient coverage.

All officers who are interested in participating in the phlebotomy program receive training at Bates Technical College where they obtain a certificate in phlebotomy. Once certified, these officers are also able to use their certification outside of the law enforcement phlebotomy program. The blood draws are performed in controlled locations within the stations that are outfitted with both audio and video recording capabilities; funds have been utilized to purchase specialized equipment including phlebotomy chairs.

Similar to the experience in Idaho, the participating Washington agencies worked with the media to share information about the program to ensure accurate reporting. To raise awareness among the general public, a press conference was held, and the Lakewood Police Department demonstrated the blood draw procedure. Videos from these demonstrations are available online. Overall, the initial programs in Lakewood and Pierce County were deemed to be highly successful. In fact, the Lakewood program was recognized with a Municipal Excellence Award. Since the rollout of these programs in 2018, other police departments and law enforcement agencies from across the state have requested WTSC funds to establish their own programs.

Contact: Edica Esqueda (Program Manager, Washington Traffic Safety Commission); [email protected]

West Virginia was the last state to establish a DEC Program with the first officers receiving certification as Drue Recognition Experts (DREs) in 2014. While the state lagged in initiating the program, in the years since it has steadily expanded and can now serve as a model for other states. For several years, West Virginia has been significantly affected by the opioid epidemic and as of 2017, it has the highest age-adjusted rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country. The pervasive nature of drug problems within the state led the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) and law enforcement to initiate the state’s DEC program. Under the leadership of the state DRE coordinator and with continual funding from GHSP, the program has grown to 47 DREs within five years. In 2017, West Virginia was one of several states that were awarded a drug-impaired driving grant in recognition of both the growing need for more DREs as well as the significant progress made in establishing the program. The training done to date has been extremely effective and this is reflected in arrest data. Prior to the establishment of the program, drug-related DUI arrests accounted for less than 4% of all DUI arrests in West Virginia. In 2017, 37% of all DUI arrests were drug-related. Stakeholders in West Virginia attribute much of this increase to the dedicated training efforts that have occurred in recent years.

In addition to adhering to an aggressive training schedule, the stakeholders involved in the West Virginia DEC Program also formed a Drug Recognition Expert’s Technical Advisory Panel to address state-specific issues. After establishing the program, there was also a commitment to better understand the nature of the state’s impaired driving problem. To ensure that officers are able to easily and efficiently report data from drug evaluations, West Virginia became involved in the DRE Data Entry and Management System that was created by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management & Research (ITSMR) in New York. This system is designed to improve the oversight and monitoring of the DRE program and facilitates data collection and analysis. West Virginia is one of several states that requires all DREs to enter drug evaluation data into a tablet application that transmits this information to a larger database where it can be used for research and evaluation. Grant funding was secured to offset equipment costs (e.g., tablets) for officers and facilitate the data collection process.

The analysis of DRE evaluation data has assisted West Virginia law enforcement in identifying drug trends and informing patrol strategies. For example, many drug-impaired driving arrests were found to occur during the daytime as opposed to when traditional DUI enforcement is conducted, and DRE evaluation data supported this finding as 51% of all cases involving a DRE were initiated between 8:00am-8:00pm. Subsequently, law enforcement agencies within the state are now exploring strategies to combat drug-impaired driving during daytime hours.

Contact: Officer Joey Koher (State DEC Coordinator, Huntington Police Department); [email protected]

Toxicology Programs & Practices

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) and the Alabama Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program conducted a multi-year oral fluid pilot program to validate the use of oral fluid screening in the field by trained law enforcement officers as well as oral fluid confirmation testing at ADFS. As part of this pilot which commenced in 2016, three oral fluid screening instruments were evaluated along with Quantisal evidential collection. Upon analysis of data from the pilot, it was found that the use of roadside oral fluid screening combined with either blood or oral fluid confirmation testing has the ability to improve impaired driving investigations and potentially identify more drug and polysubstance-impaired drivers. This can lead to improvements in highway safety and reductions in fatalities.

Following the successful pilot study, Alabama became the first state to transition to a permanent oral fluid program. ADFS opted to create a program that utilizes booth oral fluid screening at roadside and evidentiary confirmation testing using a separate oral fluid sample. Three instruments have been validated and approved for use at roadside including the SoToxa (Abbott), Drug Test 5000 (Draeger), and MultiStat (Randox). Each of these devices screen for the presence of the most commonly abused drugs including cannabis, opiates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine. ADFS advises that the devices should be used in a manner similar to preliminary breath tests as a positive result can assist an officer in establishing probable cause in conjunction with other evidence. Once an arrest is made, an evidential chemical sample must be collected to submit to the laboratory for confirmation testing.

The second aspect of the ADFS oral fluid drug testing program involves the collection of an evidentiary oral fluid sample. Previously, officers would have to collect a blood sample in drug-impaired driving cases which requires a warrant in instances where the suspect refuses to voluntarily submit to the blood draw. By giving officers the option to collect an evidentiary oral fluid sample, chemical evidence can be collected and preserved in a less invasive and more efficient manner. While the ideal scenario is the collection of both a blood and oral fluid sample to obtain as much evidence as possible, the addition of evidential oral fluid testing affords officers more flexibility in these cases. ADFS supplies Quantisal collection tubes for evidential testing and officers are trained on how to properly obtain and submit these samples to the lab for analysis. Evidential oral fluid samples are tested for more than 20 substances including drugs of abuse and prescription medications that are commonly found in impaired driving cases.

Contact: Dr. Curt Harper (Chief Forensic Toxicologist, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences); [email protected]

The Orange County Crime Lab has taken a comprehensive approach to testing in impaired driving cases which has led to the collection of county-wide data. The practices employed at the lab can serve as a model for other jurisdictions that are considering expanding drug testing in traffic-related cases. Through this testing protocol, Orange County has been able to obtain robust data regarding the magnitude and characteristics of the alcohol, drug, and polysubstance-impaired driving problem within the jurisdiction. To date, both drug and polysubstance-impaired driving data has been limited on account of a lack of testing, particularly in cases where the driver is found to have an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The Orange County model ensures that these drivers are identified which not only provides practitioners and decision-makers with information to guide policy and resource allocation, it also assists prosecutors in the adjudication of impaired driving cases.


Using sophisticated instrumentation, the Orange County Crime Lab has implemented a protocol where every single blood sample in DUI cases is tested for the presence of drugs. This includes samples that have BAC levels above the illegal limit of .08. When samples arrive at the lab, analyses are performed to identify alcohol, inhalants, and seven different classifications of drugs. In total, the lab reports drug concentrations in blood for 72 different compounds. The Orange County Crime Lab is one of only a handful of forensic labs that has pursued this level of testing and, as such, can inform scientific literature about the prevalence of different types of drugs among fatally-injured drivers and suspects in DUI cases. In Congressional testimony, Assistant Director Jennifer Harmon noted that the Crime Lab has found that in Orange County, approximately 45% of impaired drivers test positive for the presence of at least one drug. Polysubstance-impaired driving is also a significant problem as 29% of drivers with a BAC above .08 test positive for at least one drug. Moreover, for DUI suspects that do not test positive for alcohol, approximately 40% are found to have three or more drugs in their system. Among fatally-injured drivers, 56% test positive for at least one drug with the majority testing positive for alcohol or THC (the main psychoactive component in cannabis).

The success of the lab goes beyond merely testing as there is a heavy emphasis placed on cross-training with other practitioners including law enforcement, particularly drug recognition experts (DREs), and prosecutors. Forensic toxicologists learn from officers in the field and vice versa about observed impairment, drug concentrations, substance interaction, and emerging drug trends. Information-sharing among these entities ensures that practitioners maintain current knowledge about the nature of the impaired driving problem within the county. Further, training with prosecutors has led to improved testimony and outcomes in court. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has a vertical prosecution program for drug-impaired driving cases and a conviction rate of over 95%.


In Orange County, the crime lab has faced many of the challenges that are common to forensic testing entities. Namely, increases in the volume of samples without corresponding increases in the level of resources needed to handle this influx. In her testimony, Jennifer Harmon noted that over the previous eight years, the lab experienced a 60% increase in the number of examinations performed on toxicology samples and a 100% increase in the number of drug-impaired driving cases that were processed. During this timeframe, there was also a 25% reduction in the level of lab staffing. Despite these capacity issues, the county remains committed to conducting high quality and comprehensive testing in all cases which includes performing drug analyses in samples where alcohol is present. A key to the success of this initiative has been the level of collaboration and buy-in among partners. The Crime Lab has a memorandum of understanding from the County Board of Supervisors to provide forensic services without additional cost to agencies. While supplemental grant funding has been received from the California Office of Traffic Safety, the Sheriff’s Office has remained supportive of the drug testing program even without the additional funding to offset costs.


Today, the lab is in the process of expanding its testing protocol. Plans are underway to begin testing blood samples in every traffic-related case (including both deceased and surviving drivers) for the presence of more than 300 drugs. This includes a wide array of illicit drugs, synthetic and designer drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications with known impairing effects. This broad testing will serve to further enhance the quality of the county-wide data and allow for trend analyses. Other states should look to this example to inform practice.


Contact: Matthew Nix (Assistant Director of Forensic Chemistry) [email protected].

Washington State has consistently invested in building and expanding lab capacity for forensic testing. Following the passage of Initiative 502 which legalized recreational cannabis for adult use, there was recognition that likely increases in drug-impaired driving cases would require greater investment in state labs to reduce potential backlog in sample processing. As predicted, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) Toxicology Laboratory experienced a 63% increase in suspected impaired driving cases between 2012 and 2016. The percentage of these cases that tested positive for THC (the main psychoactive component in cannabis) increased from 19% in 2012 to 33% in 2016 (Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 2018).


To assist the lab in handling this influx in testing, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) has continued to supply grant funding to increase both the quality and efficiency of testing processes. This includes providing funds for additional personnel, lab instrumentation and equipment as well as data-analysis software that reduces the amount of time that lab personnel spend on casework and documentation. WTSC has supported the lab in an effort to reduce the wait times in processing blood samples in DUI cases and reporting the results. Backlog remains a common concern in most jurisdictions as significant delays can result in impaired driving cases proceeding to trial without chemical evidence which can make it difficult to secure convictions. While WTSC has invested heavily in lab upgrades, additional resources have also been provided to train toxicologists on how to deliver effective testimony in court. Lastly, funds have been made available to facilitate external drug testing in some impaired driving cases to decrease the financial strain on the lab’s operational budget.


Not only has WTSC provided funds to improve lab effectiveness and efficiency, it has also invested in research. Some of the most robust drug-impaired driving data currently available (specifically cannabis-impaired driving data), has been released by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. In a series of reports, retrospective analysis of blood samples in fatal crashes over multiple years has been analyzed for the presence of THC as well as active and inactive cannabis metabolites. These reports have provided information about the prevalence of cannabis-impaired driving both pre and post-legalization and have delineated between the presence of various cannabinoids in the body including the psychoactive components and inactive metabolites. Furthermore, some of these analyses have quantified the concentrations of THC in the blood revealing that many fatally-injured drivers have nanogram levels below the 5ng per se limit. These analyses have also provided insight into the increasing prevalence of polysubstance-impaired driving as the most recent report identifies polysubstance impairment as the most common type of impairment found among drivers involved in fatal crashes in the state. In fact, among drivers in fatal crashes between 2008 and 2016 that tested positive for alcohol or drugs, 44% tested positive for two or more substances with alcohol and THC being the most common combination.

Contact: Pam Pannkuk (Deputy Director Washington Traffic Safety Commission) [email protected]

Adjudication Programs & Approaches

An example of a strong DUI unit and vertical prosecution in impaired driving cases can be found at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (ODCA). The ODCA receives grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to administer an alcohol and drug-impaired driver prosecution program and a statewide DUI/D training program that houses the California Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor network. For nearly a decade, OCDA has taken the lead in developing innovative approaches to the prosecution of impaired driving cases including a collaborative model that integrates prosecution, investigation, and toxicology in drug-impaired driving cases. OCDA currently administers the TSRP program and is responsible for delivering training statewide to both law enforcement and prosecutors. Beginning in 2017, the office has focused on creating a statewide training, resource, and education network which allows agencies throughout California to share expertise related to the investigation and prosecution of traffic crimes. In addition to providing training in the field, OCDA has also created public awareness videos and materials aimed at educating Californians about the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

The OCDA receives more than a million dollars in OTS grant funds each year to oversee training and to maintain multiple vertical prosecution positions throughout the county. These prosecutors exclusively handle drug-impaired driving cases and they are responsible for reviewing the cases, filing charges, and seeing those cases through to resolution. This approach to adjudication has shown to improve prosecutorial efforts and outcomes. The grant funds are used to cover the salaries/dedicated hours of the deputy district attorneys who have a DUI/D vertical prosecution caseload. The vertical prosecution program has proven so successful in Orange County that other counties across the state have applied for OTS grant funds to establish their own units (e.g., Riverside County, Sonoma County, etc.).

Contact: Hoon Chang (Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor, Orange County District Attorney’s Office); [email protected]

Traffic safety resource prosecutors (TSRPs) are typically current or former prosecutors who provide training, education, and technical support to traffic crimes prosecutors and law enforcement personnel throughout their States. Traffic crimes and safety issues include alcohol and/or drug impaired driving, distracted driving, vehicular homicide, occupant restraint, and other highway safety issues. Each TSRP must assess the needs and demands unique to his or her own State and work in conjunction with many agencies to meet these needs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, law enforcement agencies, judicial organizations, crime laboratories (including forensic toxicologists), medical examiners, local media, Governor’s Highway Safety Offices’, victim advocate groups, and resources available from the National District Attorneys Association’s National Traffic Law Center should all be used to facilitate services to all prosecutors and law enforcement.

Contact: Joanne Thomka, Director, National Traffic Law Center; [email protected]

Screening and Assessment

The Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) is a risk and needs screening and assessment instrument that is validated specifically among the impaired driver population. CARS was developed to fill a void in practice by accurately identifying DUI offender risk levels as well as co-occurring mental health disorders that are common among this population. For more information and to download the free software, visit:

CARS was initially developed with grant funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which provided support to the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance (a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate). The assessment is adapted from the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) which is a reliable and internationally-validated instrument that has the added benefit of being developed for use by lay interviewers. Using funding and support from, the team at the Division on Addiction adapted and repackaged the CIDI in a format more suitable for use in clinical settings and with DUI offenders.

Unlike traditional paper-and-pencil assessments, CARS combines a standardized substance use and mental health assessment with a user-friendly interface. The tool operates on free, open source software that generates immediate personalized diagnostic reports that contain information about a client’s mental health profile, a summary of risk factors, and targeted referrals to treatment services within their geographic area that match their individual needs. Similar to the CIDI, CARS has been developed in such a way that its use is not limited to clinicians and/or researchers; instead, the computerized and user-friendly nature of CARS allows practitioners who lack clinical training or experience in the area of mental health to perform the assessment.

CARS is available in three formats – a full assessment, an interviewer-administered screener, and a self-administered screener. The full assessment is divided into modules addressing various mental disorders and psychosocial factors. The instrument provides immediate diagnostic information for multiple DSM-V disorders including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder), substance use disorders, conduct disorder, etc. In the full assessment, respondents first complete a screening module, and are then only referred to modules for which the client screened into, increasing the efficiency of the instrument. In addition, there is flexibility within the use of the full assessment, allowing the individual or program administering the tool to tailor it – practitioners can select any subset of modules to be turned on or off and can also identify whether they want to assess individuals for the presence of disorders throughout their lifetime or in the past 12 months. The full assessment can take a couple of hours to complete and provides detailed diagnostic information.

The CARS screeners are often a more viable option in courts or programs that lack the resources or time to administer the full assessment. Recognizing that resources are limited, the CHA team created the two versions of the screener to allow for more options and to provide practitioners with an accurate indication of risk as well as identify potential treatment needs that require further assessment. The screener takes an average of 15-40 minutes to complete which is largely dependent on the degree to which the client shares information.

For all versions of CARS, individual diagnostic reports are generated within seconds after the screening or assessment is complete. The reports provide information about the mental health disorders for which a person qualifies or is at risk, his or her experience of symptoms, as well as a summary of bio-psycho-social risk factors.  Practitioners have noted that these reports are valuable and can help in establishing a rapport with clients as review of the findings conveys transparency and also provides an opportunity for these individuals to begin thinking about the behavior and other relevant issues. This has the potential to move them towards readiness for change.


CARS is available, free of cost, to any court or criminal justice agency interested in improving the screening and assessment of impaired drivers. The software along with accompanying background information and training materials are available online at Since its release in the summer of 2017, CARS has nearly 800 registrants and is being utilized in every facet of the justice system including pre-trial services, traditional courts, treatment courts, probation/community corrections agencies, treatment providers, etc. The feedback has been strong as practitioners report that the use of CARS has improved their ability to identify and address the treatment needs of impaired drivers, particularly mental health issues that they were previously unable to diagnose. The state of Colorado integrated CARS within its felony DUI offender treatment program (Level II 4+) and the state of Louisiana is set to include CARS within a new case management system. Recent enhancements made to the tool include the translation of Spanish versions of the screeners and a DSM-V update to ensure that the instrument utilizes the most recent diagnostic criteria within each module. CARS-5, the most recent version of the software, is available for download as of the first quarter of 2020.

CARS updates and access to the tool can be found at To learn more about’s involvement with CARS along with the piloting of the tool in various criminal justice settings, visit our webpage and read the process evaluation report.


Contact: Erin Holmes (Vice President of Criminal Justice Programs & Policy / Technical Writer,; [email protected] 

The DUI-RANT is a screening/triage tool that is designed for use in quickly screening impaired drivers. This tool was developed by a team of researchers at the Treatment Research Institute (TRI) and it was derived from the RANT which is an empirically-based risk and needs triage tool. The DUI-RANT can be used in a number of criminal justice settings but is especially valuable in high volume courts or agencies that are seeking to make quick decisions with respect to offender placement, supervision levels, and degree to which treatment intervention is necessary. The tool consists of less than 20 questions and can typically be completed in less than 10 minutes. As the DUI-RANT is a triage tool, it can be easily administered by non-clinicians and requires minimal training.

The purpose of the instrument is to quickly identify the quadrant of the risk and needs matrix that an offender fits within. This information assists practitioners in identifying which offenders require intensive supervision as well as treatment interventions. The DUI-RANT identifies whether an offender is high-risk or low-risk for recidivism and whether they have high needs or low needs that require further assessment and a personalized treatment plan. According to the RANT classification system, individuals who score high-risk/high need may be best suited for intensive supervision and clinical services whereas individuals who score high-risk/low need may require more intensive supervision but less intensive clinical service or may not require any treatment interventions. For those who score low-risk/high needs the focus should be on identifying appropriate clinical services and treatment interventions, but a lower level of supervision is required. Lastly, low-risk/low needs individuals are likely to be the portion of the offender population that self-corrects. It is important to identify these offenders because subjecting them to unnecessary levels of supervision or treatment and exposing them to higher risk offenders could lead to poor outcomes. To identify where an offender fits within the matrix, the DUI-RANT measures a number of different domains including age of onset of criminal activity and substance use; deviant peer affiliations; prior failure in drug/alcohol rehabilitation and diversion programs; prior felony or serious misdemeanors; physical addiction to drugs/alcohol; chronic medical and mental health conditions, etc.

Unlike the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) and the Impaired Driving Assessment (IDA), there are licensing fees associated with the use of the DUI-RANT. This means that agencies interested in using the tool must establish a licensing agreement that grants access to a number of licenses for a specified period of time (typically one year). The licensing fees can be prohibitive for agencies that lack significant resources. Learn more about the RANT and the DUI-RANT here.

Contact: General inquiries at the Treatment Research Institute regarding RANT – [email protected]  or call 1-866-453-9262

The Impaired Driving Assessment was developed by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The IDA was designed for community corrections practitioners and, as such, it is primarily a risk assessment although it does examine criminogenic needs. The impetus for its development was recognition that generic risk assessment tools do not accurately capture DUI offender risk level. Tools that have not been validated sp