Sobriety checkpoints can reduce alcohol-related traffic fatalities by as much as 20 percent. They deter people from driving under the influence and arrest those who drink and drive. (http://www.checkpointstrikeforce.net/)

May 30, 2017

The University of Maryland Institute of Advanced Law Enforcement Studies will host its annual DUI Institute for Maryland police officers June 4-9 at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD).  Now in its 12th year, the institute was developed jointly by the UMD School of Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health, the Maryland Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office (MHSO), police officers, and national experts on alcohol-impaired driving.

“We designed the DUI Institute to help Maryland police officers enhance the number and quality of their arrests for alcohol-impaired driving,” said Behavioral and Community Health Professor Kenneth Beck who facilitates the program. “Officers who have attended this training report that it has increased their effectiveness in making more impaired driving arrests that lead to a conviction.”

Dr. Beck has been studying risk-taking behaviors, alcohol abuse and traffic injury prevention for decades and has documented that while police officers report making a significant number of alcohol-impaired driving arrests, few officers actually appear in court, and those who do may not do so regularly (from The Police Chief, May 2012). This correlates to fewer convictions for driving under the influence.  

Dr. Beck’s research on driver beliefs, behaviors, and knowledge related to drunk driving was fundamental to the creation of the DUI institute. Through a survey with hundreds of Maryland drivers (published in Traffic Injury Prevention, Aug. 2009), he documented that a substantial portion of Maryland drivers did not feel that it was very likely they would be stopped by the police if they drove after drinking too much. This research concluded that there is a need to elevate the risk that people perceive of being caught when driving while alcohol impaired. “Drivers who perceive these risks are more accepting of enforcement and treatment countermeasures and are more likely to report safer driving behaviors, like observing speed limits,” said Dr. Beck. 

“The DUI Institute gives officers a unique and intensive opportunity to improve their skills in report writing and providing court room testimony, culminating in a mock court where they present evidence in front of a panel of judges and attorneys,” said MHSO Chief Thomas J. Gianni.

The 40-hour, in-service program also exposes officers to the latest information on the effectiveness of impaired driving countermeasures (ignition interlocks, DUI courts, sobriety checkpoints, etc.), police traffic management, and the physiology of alcohol and its abuse/addiction.

In addition, officers receive advanced training in conducting Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and the chance to practice these techniques with drinking volunteers who have been dosed to various blood alcohol levels.

Dr. Beck conducted the first randomized trial of alcohol ignition interlocks, and his research helped form Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration policy concerning how DUI offenders are reinstated for licensure. He has also worked with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Maryland Highway Safety Office to evaluate their “Checkpoint Strikeforce” drunk driving prevention campaign.

The DUI Institute will operate from June 4 – 9 and is sponsored by the MHSO and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Media contact: For more information or media interviews with Dr. Beck and DUI Institute participants, contact Kelly Blake, 301-405-9418, kellyb@umd.edu.

Related Links

Checkpoint Strikeforce: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

DUI Institute: University of Maryland’s Institute of Advanced Law Enforcement Studies

A Comparison of Drivers with High Versus Low Perceived Risk of Being Caught and Arrested for Driving Under the Influence

Related People
Kenneth H. Beck