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An increasing number of counties and states have launched databases to track where DUI offenders downed their last drink before getting behind the wheel, and supporters say the information is helping communities reduce drunk driving.

During an arrest or crash investigation, officers try to identify where a suspected drunk driver was served or bought their last drink. The information is then entered into a central database, where it can be compiled and accessed by law enforcement and other officials.

Hard data for better DUI enforcement

Many DUI officers already have a sense of which bars and restaurants are more likely to over serve customers. But actively tracking the information allows departments to objectively identify problem locations, as well as uncover patterns in DUIs such as the most common days of the week and average BACs.

Critics argue that the main purpose of collecting the data is to drive up DUI stops and related fines by “sitting” on known DUI hot spots. They also question the accuracy of information obtained from drunk drivers. But supporters contend that collecting the data over time counteracts the occasional inaccuracy, and it helps law enforcement concentrate DUI patrols and enforcement efforts in areas they will do the most good.

Working with businesses to stop drunk driving

Tracking a drunk driver’s last drink can also help prevent drunk driving and other alcohol-related issues. When a bar or alcohol retailer regularly shows up in the database, law enforcement can educate the business’s staff about spotting intoxicated patrons and the dangers of over serving, or increase awareness about alternative rides home. When combined with information on the age of a drunk driver, place-of-last-drink databases can identify establishments that serve underage drinkers. And if enforcement and education efforts don’t solve the problem, the data can help cities and counties make informed decisions about a business’s liquor license.

National backing

According to the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, “Research has shown that increased enforcement on establishments identified by DUI arrestees led to a 36% decrease in DUI arrests from those sites.” The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also urged better tracking of offenders’ place of last drink in their recommendations to reduce impaired driving. Yet relatively few states collect the information.

Do you think tracking a drunk driver’s last drink is an effective tool to prevent DUIs?

 

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Alison Betts

Alison Betts

Alison Betts has over 15 years of experience as a communications professional and researcher in corporate, nonprofit, and high education settings. Betts joined AMS in 2013 and is currently a Senior Manager of Marketing & Public Relations. Prior to coming to AMS, she held research and teaching positions at universities in Arizona and Colorado. Betts has also served as a public relations professional and grant writer in the nonprofit sector, where she saw first-hand the devastating impact of alcohol and substance abuse on families and communities. Betts holds an MA in English from the University of Colorado and a Master’s in Applied Communications from the University of Denver.

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