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Driving Home a Message: DUI is a Serious Crime, and Prevention and Enforcement Efforts Need Improvement

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 32 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2005 Pages: 18,20-26,28,29
Rebecca Kanable
Date Published
May 2005
10 pages
This article presents suggestions for preventing DUI (driving under the influence) as well as enforcing laws against it, as recommended by a number of organizations that are working for change in these areas.
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has recommended increasing the use of general deterrence strategies to stop DUI. MADD favors focusing on sobriety checkpoints rather than the number of DUI arrests. Knowledge of frequent random sobriety checkpoints can act as a deterrent for DUI. Checkpoints that have used only three to five officers have been found to be effective, suggesting that resource allocation for regular random checkpoints should not be a problem. Checkpoints should be part of routine traffic enforcement in every community. If the public is informed that passive alcohol sensors are being used at checkpoints, this can be an even bigger deterrent, because people know they will be detected if they have been drinking. An issue that may keep DUI enforcement from becoming a top priority for a police agency is the amount and redundancy of paperwork to be done by involved officers. In Michigan, this problem is being relieved by the use of electronic data entry that reduces duplication. DUI law enforcement can be enhanced through training that encompasses the detection of an impaired driver, apprehension and arrest procedures, the presentation of evidence in court, and the application of standard field sobriety tests. The American public also needs more information about drunk driving and its enforcement. Public campaigns that emphasize diminished driving skills due to alcohol consumption, the possible life-changing consequences from DUI-related crashes, and practical tips for avoiding DUI can significantly impact DUI rates. Increased funding for improved DUI prevention and enforcement is also important.