Drug-Impaired Driving

According to the 2013-2014 NHTSA National Roadside Survey, 22.5 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs that could cause driving impairment. More than 15 percent tested positive for illicit drugs, and more than 12 percent tested positive for THC (delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol), which is a 4 percent increase from the 2007 survey. An additional 2009 NHTSA study tested fatally injured drivers and found that nationally 18 percent tested positive for at least one illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drug. This is an increase from a 2005 NHTSA study that found that 13 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug type. The study also found that 23 percent of California’s 1,678 fatally injured drivers in 2009 tested positive for drugs. OTS grants have provided increased officer training in the NHTSA Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE) programs, which has lead to better detection of drug-impaired drivers. OTS grants also have funded vertical prosecution programs for drug-impaired driving cases.


  • Provide increased training to law enforcement to identify drug-impaired drivers.



The OTS funded 19 grants that focused on the prosecution of DUI offenders where each case was handled by a single, specially trained, dedicated prosecutor from start to finish. Judges and the defense bar recognized the expertise of these dedicated attorneys, resulting in sentences better suited to DUI offenses, thus reducing repeat offenders. Grant funded prosecutors shared their knowledge and experience with deputies, improving the results across all alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases. Grantees commonly reported they benefited from streamlined communication between arresting officers and the attorneys handling the cases. Officers learned they have a single point-person for alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases in the event of unique circumstances. Attorneys identified deficiencies in investigations or reports and communicated their needs to the officers. The communication and relationships were bolstered by the attorneys’ participation in DUI patrol ride-a-longs and attendance at checkpoints. These specialized prosecutors experienced an improved prosecution rate, aided in part by better communication with law enforcement.


Monterey County Superior Court
Monterey County Superior Court continued a third year of collaborative efforts with Monterey County Behavioral Health Bureau and Monterey County Probation Department to expand participation in their DUI Treatment Court. The 71 participants admitted into the DUI treatment court program were subject to extensive supervision by a probation officer, attended peer group counseling, and completed mandatory treatment programs. The program successfully provided therapeutic treatment options for participants with two or more offenses in lieu of incarceration alone.


Orange County District Attorney’s Office
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) continued its partnership with the OTS to develop multiple subject matter experts in the management of impaired-driving cases. The California Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Training Network (CA TSRP) continued to expand, through which training materials were shared to provide thorough and timely responses to inquiries related to all aspects of impaired-driving investigations from prosecutors, law enforcement, and other traffic safety professionals. The CA TSRP hosted two four-day traffic college courses for prosecutors and law enforcement, which focused on various aspects of traffic safety investigations and prosecutions including report writing, courtroom testimony, a full day mock trial component, and a live alcohol workshop. In addition, the CA TSRP conducted four regional live training classes, expanded education and outreach efforts by producing public service announcement videos, disseminated four training videos to personnel throughout the state, and continued the development of a youth outreach project dedicated to raising awareness among high school students of the dangers of drug-impairment as it relates to driving.


Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency
In its first year, “Drive Sober Shasta” increased awareness of the risks of drug-impaired driving among Shasta County residents and increased the community’s capacity to promote traffic safety messages. The program launched Facebook and Instagram pages using geofencing to promote impaired driving prevention media. The pages were viewed a total of 311,953 times by people in Shasta County. Drive Sober Shasta collaborated with local high school students to produce two web-based videos and educational materials on drug-impaired driving prevention, reaching 5,685 students. The videos were promoted through local advertisements and Facebook boosted posts, reaching more than 60,000 people. The program also conducted traffic safety events in high schools, reaching 1,500 students; provided educational booths at six health fairs, reaching a total of 2,330 people; and conducted media spokesperson training where students reported a significant improvement in their ability to speak about impaired driving to television reporters, members of the public, and their peers. Shasta County contributed $29,000 of in-kind funds to the program.

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