Program Type: Training & Education
Program Location: Illinois
Lead Agency: Institute for Legal Legislative and Policy Studies (ILLAPS), University of Illinois Springfield

Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety (IDOT/DTS)

The Issue: Prevention
Program Target Population:

DUI System Stakeholders (law enforcement, community supervision, prosecution, judges, probation officers, treatment providers, etc.)

Program Description:

The Hard Core Drunk Driver Project is funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation/Division of Traffic Safety to address the problem of the hard core drinking driver (HCDD) in Illinois.  The major components of the Hard Core Drunk Driving Project include training for DUI system stakeholders on the hard core drunk driver and the checklist, research regarding the usefulness of the checklist to identify the hard core drunk driver, and the Hard Core Drunk Driver Task Force created in 2009 to establish and ensure implementation of best practices for those working with the hard core drunk driver.  


Members of the Institute work closely with the grant monitor with IDOT/DTS to design, develop and deliver training.  These trainings take the form of seminars for DUI system stakeholder groups including law enforcement, prosecutors, and probation officers.   Training DVDs created on campus have been developed to use during the seminars to provide a hands-on experience for the participants using the HCDD checklist.   The Institute is developing online training which may also include the use of DVDs created on campus. 


As part of the Illinois Department of Transportation/Division of Traffic Safety (IDOT/DTS) grant, in 2006 the article, Recognizing, Managing and Containing the Hard Core Drinking Driver summarized the research on the hard core drinking driver and provided a checklist to aid with the identification of this high risk offender.  

The Institute has piloted the checklist in several probation departments in Illinois asking DUI officers to complete the checklist with offenders to test its usefulness in identifying the hard core drunk driver.  Recidivism data were also collected from the pilot sites on those offenders who had been interviewed using the checklist to determine if it was a predictive instrument.  Further research and analysis has been conducted to determine relationships among the variables and the domains. It is a resource that supplements other intake and assessment tools in order to help determine whether an offender’s profile is consistent with that of a hardcore drunk driver. It helps probation officers to adequately identify offenders at high risk of recidivism and future alcohol-related problems, links offenders to the best treatment resources and provides guidance for post-treatment recovery and appropriate relapse intervention.

The checklist identifies 38 characteristics of hard core drunk drivers categorized in six domains that help identify areas that may indicate a problem for an offender. After the checklist is completed, a score is generated and indicates level of recidivism risk.

The following are the six dimensions with sample items the officer would use to identify the hardcore drinking driver:

  • Demographic/Social Profile: Identify sex, age and social networks.
  • Substance Use/Treatment History: Identify family history, heavy consumption in the last year, early onset of smoking/heavy smoking and prior addiction treatment.
  • Driving & Criminal Justice History: Identify prior criminal and/or DUI arrests, crashes and a high-risk driving record.
  • Drinking/Driving Beliefs: Identify whether they believe they can drive safely after consuming alcohol and more accurately estimate their level of intoxication.
  • Arrest Event: Identify whether the offender’s BAC was at .15 or higher and without gross signs of intoxication.
  • Broad Clinical Profile: Identify any medical history reflecting self-injury or abuse of others and symptoms or prior treatment of a psychiatric illness (such as PTSD, depression, etc).

Task Force:

Formed in 2009, the Task Force is made up of key DUI system stakeholders who seek to develop strategies and practices for the members of the court system including law enforcement, prosecution, judiciary, probation officers and treatment for working with the HCDD.  Another goal of the Task Force is to encourage research to measure the effectiveness of tools to use with the HCDD and establish partnerships with other nationwide programs that are being developed for probation officers and prosecutors who work with the HCDD.  The Task Force also examines policy issues on impaired driving as it relates to the HCDD and promotes the development of tools to use when supervising the HCDD. 

Program Effectiveness:

Anecdotal results from the evaluation of the trainings and comments from the members of the Task Force are positive.  Training evaluations including initial evaluations and follow-up evaluations are completed for each of the trainings. 

Program Cost Effectiveness:

The overall cost effectiveness of the program has not been assessed.  ILLAPS works closely with the grant monitor and follows University guidelines for procurement and purchasing to provide high quality seminars within budget. 

Source of Funding:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation

Factors to Consider When Replicating the Program:

  • Recruiting enough staff members to carry out the necessary responsibilities
  • Obtaining enough funding
  • Having in-house resources that would enable the development of training materials and learning aids
  • Securing buy-in from local courts and other stakeholders to use the checklist as a tool to assess, evaluate and supervise hard core drunk drivers

For more information on this program, please contact:

Tom Ambrose

Peter Weitzel