What Works: Strategies to Reduce or Prevent Alcohol-Impaired Driving
The strategies in this section are effective for reducing or preventing alcohol-impaired driving. They are recommended by The Guide to Community Preventive Services and/or have been demonstrated to be effective in reviews by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.* Different strategies might require different resources for implementation or have different levels of impact. Find strategies that are right for your state.
Alcohol-Impaired Driving Laws
Alcohol-impaired driving laws make it illegal to drive with a BAC at or above a specified level (0.05% or 0.08%, depending on the state). For people under 21, zero tolerance laws make it illegal to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their systems. These laws, along with laws that maintain the minimum legal drinking age at 21, are in place in all 50 states and DC and have saved tens of thousands of lives.
Publicized sobriety checkpoints allow police to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to check drivers for impairment. Police may stop all or a certain portion of drivers. Sobriety checkpoints should be well publicized (e.g., through mass media campaigns) and conducted regularly for greatest impact.
High-Visibility Saturation Patrols
High-visibility saturation patrols consist of a large number of police patrolling a specific area, usually at times and locations where alcohol-impaired driving crashes are more common. Like sobriety checkpoints, these patrols should be well publicized and conducted regularly.
Ignition interlocks for all, including first-time, convicted offenders can be installed in vehicles to measure alcohol on drivers’ breath. Interlocks keep vehicles from starting if drivers have a BAC above a certain level, usually 0.02%. Interlocks are highly effective at preventing repeat offenses while installed. Incorporating alcohol problem assessment and treatment into interlock programs shows promise in reducing repeat offenses once interlocks are removed.
Alcohol Problem Assessment and Treatment Programs
Alcohol problem assessment and treatment programs can be used for those arrested for alcohol-impaired driving. Treatment is most effective when combined with other sanctions and when offenders are closely monitored. Assessment and treatment are critical to the success of DWI courts, which are specialized courts focused on changing the behavior of alcohol-impaired driving offenders.
Alcohol Screening and Brief Interventions
Alcohol screening and brief interventions take advantage of “teachable moments” and can be delivered in health care, university, and other settings to identify people at risk for alcohol problems and get them treatment as needed.
Multi-component interventions combine several programs or policies to prevent alcohol-impaired driving. The key to these comprehensive efforts is community mobilization, which involves coalitions or task forces in design and implementation.
School-based Instructional Programs
School-based instructional programs are effective at teaching teens not to ride with alcohol-impaired drivers.
- The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide), Motor Vehicle-Related Injury Prevention.external icon
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2018). Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasures Guide for State Highway Safety Offices, Ninth Edition. pdf icon[PDF – 567 pages]external icon
Working together, we can help keep people safe on the road – every day. Keep alcohol-impaired drivers off the road.
Fact sheets are available for each state and the District of Columbia. They include national and state data on alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-involved crash deaths, as well as an overview of proven strategies for reducing and preventing alcohol-impaired driving.
View and download dozens of motor vehicle datasets and visualizations, including charts and maps, on data.cdc.gov.
CDC offers a new interactive calculator to help state decision makers prioritize and select from a suite of 14 effective motor vehicle injury prevention interventions. MV PICCS is designed to calculate the expected number of injuries prevented and lives saved at the state level and the costs of implementation, while taking into account available resources.
CDC's Safe Driving Board on PinterestHelp spread the word about the dangers of alcohol-impaired driving. Visit the CDC Safe Driving Pinterest board for ready-to-share graphics and social media content.