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Detecting Impairment to Make Streets (and Schools) Safer

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 69 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2002 Pages: 61-62
Douglas Paquette
Charles E. Higginbotham
Date Published
July 2002
2 pages
This article discusses and reviews three resources that can assist law enforcement in identifying alcohol and drug impaired drivers.
Law enforcement has the difficult task of detecting alcohol and drug impairment in drivers in order to protect and make the streets and schools safer. Officers have tools and resources to assist them in this task which are described in this article. First, there is the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) that allow an officer to determine whether or not the operator of a motor vehicle is impaired. The SFSTs are administered by a 3-test battery, the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk and turn (WAT), and the one leg stand (OLS). Second, once impairment is established and alcohol is ruled out as the cause of impairment, the Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) are called. These experts are capable of gathering evidence necessary to substantiate charges of impairment by drugs. The SFSTs and DREs together greatly enhance law enforcement’s ability to detect and remove impaired drivers. In addition, the national Drug Impairment Training for Education Professionals (DITEP) was developed as a two-part program taught by DREs and designed for those who work with a client base at high risk for drug use. Through strengthening the ties between law enforcement and the community and their joint efforts there will be a reduction in drug use, as well as a reduction in youth driving while impaired.