The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is an influential group that advocates for state-level policy changes that address roadway safety. The GHSA has been working to address the way DUI is prosecuted and punished in the U.S.
In December, the GHSA issued a report on what they call “high-risk impaired drivers.” Who are these drivers? The GHSA defines them as having these four characteristics:
- Have previous DUI offenses on their record
- Likely to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or higher
- Consumes more than one impairing substance
- Lacks the self-control to avoid driving while impaired
The definition is a bit subjective, but the likely effect is not. People who have prior DUI convictions are the most likely to be labeled high risk, especially if any previous offense included an elevated blood alcohol content or more than one substance.
This could lead to a crackdown on people with prior DUI convictions. You could be targeted if you meet any of the other criteria.
What does the GHSA recommend we do about high-risk impaired drivers?
The report doesn’t actually recommend a crackdown on repeat DUI drivers. As a matter of fact, the organization argues that our current system of punishing drivers after each DUI offense is not working. It doesn’t seem to reduce recidivism among high-risk impaired drivers, and these drivers are disproportionately responsible for drunk-driving accidents in the U.S.
Research into high-risk impaired drivers found that many have substance use disorders that make it difficult to resist driving drunk. Moreover, the high-risk impaired driver is also likely to suffer from a separate mental health disorder, as well.
Without both mental health and substance abuse treatment, these drivers are statistically likely to reoffend. They get arrested, convicted, and punished, but they typically get no treatment at all in our current system. Predictably, they often go unmonitored, fail to comply with the conditions of their sentences or probation, and fail to make the long-term behavioral changes that are necessary.
The report points out that there are more holistic approaches to DUI enforcement that could have an impact on the high-risk impaired driver. There are gaps in the system, but there are also existing initiatives that are working to promote better accountability and long-term behavioral changes.
The GHSA urges state highway safety offices and their partners to evaluate these initiatives and fund the ones that are working. Such programs should be evaluated based on their ability to reduce recidivism among high-risk impaired drivers and among all DUI offenders.
If you have prior DUI convictions, you could be labeled a high-risk impaired driver. If you are, the system may not use a holistic, treatment-based approach. Talk to an experienced DUI attorney about your defense.