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Countering Drug-Impaired Driving: Addressing the Complexities of Gathering and Presenting Evidence in Drug-Impaired Driving Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
24 pages
This report reviews the rationale for and discussions of a workshop sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for the purpose of discussing what is needed to improve the effectiveness of identifying and prosecuting driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).
Cannabis-related impaired driving has emerged as a growing threat to public safety; however, there is no test or technique that correlates an amount of a drug in the body with the degree of drug-related impaired driving. The workshop, which was entitled "Countering Drug-Impaired Driving," was held in 2019 and was intended to inform NIJ's science and technology innovation agenda on this issue. Workshop participants included law enforcement officers, forensic toxicologists, and prosecutors experienced in DUID cases. The workshop participants emphasized that detecting and characterizing a suspect's drug-induced impairment is of primary importance. Some means of addressing this issue were discussed, including specialized officer training, standardized field sobriety tests, roadside chemical testing, and subsequent toxicological screening. The benefits and limitations of each of these approaches were discussed by the workshop participants. Among the law enforcement needs discussed in the workshop were validated, standardized training for law enforcement on DUID and improved timeliness of warrants for and acquisition of chemical tests. Workshop discussions related to forensic toxicology needs focused on improvements in the timeliness and consistency of results from forensic toxicology laboratories. Prosecution needs discussed were training in the interpretation and presentation of evidence in DUID cases, law enforcement court testimony in DUID cases, collaboration between forensic toxicologists and prosecutors, and best practices for addressing a suspect's refusal to consent to testing. 3 tables, 4 figures, and 40 references

Date Published: January 1, 2020