Blood Alcohol Concentration in Texas: Improving Medical Examiner and County Performance
In Texas, Medical Examiners and Justices of the Peace are required by statute to blood alcohol concentration (BAC) toxicology results to the Texas Department of Transportation’s Crash Records Section (TxDOT – CRS). However, occasionally BAC toxicology reporting is not performed as required. Failing to report BAC toxicology results can adversely impact the amount of federal funding that is available to the State of Texas for alcohol and drug traffic safety programs. This project works to improve the reporting rates among Medical Examiners and Justices of the Peace through outreach and education events. As a part of this project, CADES performs an analysis of the impaired driving fatal crashes in the state to identify barriers to reporting BAC toxicology results. In addition, the CADES team solicits feedback from Medical Examiners and Justices of the Peace to identify ways to improve the BAC toxicology reporting process in Texas.
Essential Education: Marijuana and Driving
The landscape of marijuana legalization is rapidly changing in the United States. Understanding how this policy reform has impacted communities where the drug has been legalized for medical or recreational use is critical. The Essential Education of Marijuana training provides relevant and current information about the basics of cannabis, the state of legalization, laws, driving while intoxicated, and reducing cannabis-impaired driving.
This project has two main components: 1.) An in-person “train-the-trainer” educational opportunity where CADES staff will provide a free curriculum that organizations can use to educate their communities on the dangers of cannabis-impaired driving; and 2.) A free, self-paced online training that takes a deeper look into cannabis.
Texas Ignition Interlock Training, Outreach, and Evaluation
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are installed in a vehicle to detect breath alcohol and prevent the vehicle’s use by a driver under the influence of alcohol. Ignition interlock devices are proven countermeasures to reduce DWI recidivism rates. As a result, many states, including Texas, have passed laws mandating DWI offenders to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) as a condition of bond and/or probation. As research, technology, and laws constantly evolve, keeping the criminal justice community abreast of these changes is imperative. Presentations are also given to community stakeholders to increase the general public’s knowledge and awareness surrounding ignition interlock devices.
Texas Impaired Driving Task Force and Technical Assistance
Impaired driving remains a significant traffic safety and public health challenge in Texas and across the country. Crashes caused by impaired driving have a devastating impact on the lives and families who have been directly affected. In addition, impaired driving crashes cost the State billions of dollars in associated medical costs and work production loss. Crashes caused by impaired driving are preventable. It is upon the preventable nature of impaired driving crashes that the Texas Impaired Driving Task Force (TxIDTF) was established with the mission of eliminating injury and death caused by impaired driving in Texas.
As administrator for the Texas Impaired Driving Task Force, the CADES team convenes experts from nearly every facet of the impaired driving challenge, including advocacy/prevention, enforcement, prosecution, toxicology, judiciary, probation, media, data and evaluation, and research. The membership shares resources and collaborates to reduce duplication of effort. This body of impaired driving stakeholders contributes to the Texas Impaired Driving Forum, the Texas Impaired Driving Plan, provides technical support for state assessments, and operates working groups to address specific topics such as drug impaired driving, legislative issues, and educational support materials.
Training and Assistance for Criminal Justice Professionals on Best Treatment Interventions for DWI Offenders
The Training and Assistance for Criminal Justice Professionals on Best Treatment Interventions for DWI Offenders is a TxDOT-funded project that provides training and technical assistance to criminal justice professionals on ways to reduce the risk of DWI recidivism by sharing intervention plans, practices and facilitating operations of professionals working on DWI caseloads.
Judges and probation officers face unique challenges when determining adequate intervention plans for DWI offenders. Under tight time constraints for offender populations with varied profiles, decisions are often made under tight time constraints. TTI’s training for criminal justice professionals on the decision-making process of prescribed intervention plans for DWI offenders and the outreach and technical assistance will generate meaningful discussions and provide practical tools to criminal justice practitioners to reduce recidivism among DWI offenders. The Training and Assistance for Criminal Justice Professionals on Best Treatment Interventions for DWI Offenders will lead the state closer to eliminating traffic death by 2050 and the state’s plan to keep Texans healthy.
Prosecutor Training on the Treatment & Referral Services for the Impaired Driving Offender in Texas (FY 2021–2022)
The Prosecutor Training on the Treatment & Referral Services for the Impaired Driving Offender in Texas was a Texas Governor’s Office funded project that offered training to prosecutors on their role in reducing the risk of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) recidivism among impaired driving offenders by sharing evidence-based practices for identifying and selecting treatment plan referral services for DWI offenders.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) provided the Office of the Governor with a comprehensive final report describing the project efforts in collecting best practices information, the developed training materials, and access to web-based training. All of these provided a comprehensive look at ways the project reduced the risk of recidivism among persons convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) to reduce crime, improve prosecution, and spread the need for increased assessment, evaluation, and treatment among DWI offenders.
Prosecutor Training on the Treatment and Referral Services for the Impaired Driving Offender in Texas – Final Technical Memorandum (November 2021)
Mapping the Referral and Treatment Services for the Texas DWI Offender (FY 2020)
Impaired driving is a problem in Texas, with the state rating above the national average for impaired- driving motor-vehicle deaths. Addressing these offenders with sanctions and rehabilitation opportunities is crucial to reducing that number. This treatment locator website serves as a repository of available resources for criminal justice practitioners to use in making informed decisions about driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenders.
Texas does not collect statewide information on the types of treatment and referral services offered to DWI offenders. Through criminal justice stakeholder interviews, Center for Transportation Safety researchers at TTI learned that each jurisdiction develops distinct referral practices without documenting procedures and sharing them with outside organizations. These findings confirm that a joint effort is necessary among the criminal justice system, the mental health community, and community-based interventions to provide DWI offenders necessary services and prevent impaired driving recidivism. The information in the repository offers a multi-disciplinary approach from the criminal justice continuum, and external treatment partners will give offenders the best chance of stopping their impaired driving behavior.
The Texas DWI Treatment Locator repository serves as a clearinghouse of information on evidence-based sentencing and referral practices, providing access to best practices that can save lives, prevent injuries, and build healthier citizens. Criminal justice practitioners can use this resource to make better-informed sentencing and programming decisions. The repository also serves as a catalyst for informed funding allocation, treatment referral decisions, and appropriate DWI sentencing in Texas.
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs and Driving: Attitudes and Behaviors of Drivers (FY 2020)
Historically, impaired-driving traffic safety efforts have primarily focused on alcohol and illicit drugs, while many licit drugs (e.g., prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs) have largely been disregarded. Certain prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs can impair driving, and drivers need to fully understand the driving-related risks of these medications.
The purpose of this project was to characterize the prevalence, attitudes, and behaviors associated with driving while using prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs. The project researchers surveyed drivers about their knowledge of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, driving risks, impairment, and consequences of the drug’s use. The findings guided the development of an educational toolkit for researchers and other organizations to consider when addressing prescription and over-the-counter drug-impaired driving. The educational toolkit includes:
- A list of publicly available drug-impaired driving educational resources
- Social media videos:
- Social Media Infographics – (Also available individually within a ZIP file.)
Marijuana and Traffic Safety — Texan’s Attitudes and Policy Toolkit (FY 2019)
As a continuation of the previous work done in the Marijuana and Driving: A Look at Texan’s Attitudes and Impact on Driving Under the Influence project in FY 2018, the CADES team created three issue-guides on the various stages of marijuana legalization, which include decriminalization, medical marijuana and legalization for recreational use. The issue-guides detailed all relevant information related to the various types of marijuana legalization and its relationship to traffic safety. In addition, this project will repeat the survey to better understand Texans’ opinions on marijuana, marijuana impaired driving, as well as the legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes and how they are changing over time.
Texas Impaired Driving Judicial Bench Book and Drug Impaired Driving Judicial Newsletter (FY 2019)
Texas impaired driving statutes are dispersed throughout five different sections of the Texas statutes. The purpose of this project was to create an impaired driving Bench Book for Texas judges which will topically organize those statutes for easier reference and add additional research materials and reference guides on each topic. In addition, the team researched articles related to the topic of drug impaired driving and produce and distributed a quarterly newsletter on that topic to Texas judges and prosecutors.
Texas Impaired Driving Bench Book – (September 2019)
Texas Traffic Records Coordinating Committee Technical Assistance (FY 2019)
CADES provided assistance to the Texas Traffic Records Coordinating Committee (TRCC). Technical assistance included helping plan and conduct quarterly meetings and providing technical assistance to TRCC members. In FY19, planned technical assistance included establishing performance measures for all TRCC agencies based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines regarding traffic records and creating a combined inventory of all traffic records databases in Texas.
DWI Data Tracking System Feasibility: Integrating Impaired Driving Data Among Shared Stakeholders (FY 2017)
There is currently no singular way to track a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) defendant from arrest through the point of disposition, which causes large gaps in the judicial process especially when it comes to prosecution and probation. This issue is exacerbated when defendants might also have prior charges and convictions that are outside the county they were arrested in.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) facilitated a technical assessment for the State of Texas’ Impaired Driving Program in 2015. One of the priority recommendations that came out of the assessment was the need to study the feasibility of implementing a DWI Tracking System. Under a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) sponsored project, CADES undertook a study to understand the complexity of what Texas is currently doing, what other states are doing, where the biggest gaps are, and what steps or actions can be taken to guide state officials to move towards a comprehensive DWI Tracking System.
Texas Core Traffic Records Database Linkage Feasibility Study – Final Report (September 2017)
Marijuana and Driving: A Look at Texans’ Attitudes and Impact on Driving Under the Influence (FY 2017)
This project investigated the impact legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes has on traffic safety and crashes. In addition, this project sought to understand Texan’s opinions on marijuana, marijuana impaired driving, as well as the legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes in Texas. Based on the information obtained during the course of this project, a series of fact sheets and an outreach video were created to educate stakeholders and the general public about current marijuana policies and the effects of marijuana on the body and driving task.
Marijuana and Driving: A Look at Texan’s Attitudes and Impact on Driving Under the Influence – Final Report (September 2017)