Enforcement of Alcohol-Impaired Driving Laws in the United States: A National Survey of State and Local Agencies

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14 Scopus citations


Objectives: Enforcement of alcohol-impaired driving laws is an important component of efforts to prevent alcohol-involved motor vehicle fatalities. Little is known about the use of drinking–driving enforcement strategies by state and local law enforcement agencies or whether the use of strategies differs by agency and jurisdiction characteristics. Methods: We conducted two national surveys, with state patrol agencies (n = 48) and with a sample of local law enforcement agencies (n = 1,082) selected according to state and jurisdiction population size. We examined 3 primary enforcement strategies (sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and enforcement of open container laws) and tested whether use of these strategies differed by jurisdiction and agency characteristics across state and local law enforcement agencies Results: Most state patrol agencies reported conducting sobriety checkpoints (72.9%) and saturation patrols (95.8%), whereas less than half (43.8%) reported enforcing open container laws. In contrast, a lower proportion of local law enforcement agencies reported using these alcohol-impaired driving enforcement strategies (41.5, 62.7, and 41.1%, respectively). Sobriety checkpoint enforcement was more common in states in the dry South region (vs. wet and moderate regions). Among local law enforcement agencies, agencies with a full-time alcohol enforcement officer and agencies located in areas where drinking–driving was perceived to be very common (vs. not/somewhat common) were more likely to conduct multiple types of impaired driving enforcement. Conclusions: Recommended enforcement strategies to detect and prevent alcohol-impaired driving are employed in some jurisdictions and underutilized in others. Future research should explore the relationship of enforcement with drinking and driving behavior and alcohol-involved motor vehicle fatalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-539
Number of pages7
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 18 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • alcohol
  • drink-driving
  • enforcement
  • impaired driving
  • saturation patrols
  • sobriety checkpoints


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