Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatality

Drivers in all 50 states and D.C. are considered to be alcohol-impaired if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Any fatality occurring in a crash that involves at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 percent or higher is considered to be an alcohol- impaired fatality.

Alcohol-Involved Traffic Fatality

A traffic fatality is considered alcohol- related if either the driver or anyone else involved in the police reported crash other than a passenger (e.g., a pedestrian or bicyclist) has alcohol in their blood stream (a BAC level of .01 percent or more). For example, if a pedestrian with a BAC of .01 percent steps off the curb in front of a sober driver and is killed by that driver, the fatality is included in alcohol-related traffic statistics. If a driver who has been drinking hits a car with two sober people in it and kills both, those two fatalities are considered alcohol-involved. In producing national and state statistics, NHTSA estimates the extent of alcohol involvement when alcohol test results are unknown


Depending on the discipline, the term “assessment” can refer to a variety  of methods used to determine the nature of a problem and course of action needed to correct the problem. In general, criminal justice assessment tools fall into three basic categories: screening instruments, comprehensive risk/needs assessments, and specialized tools.

  • Screening Instruments: Are generally quick and easy to use and focus more on static risk factors, such as a person’s criminal history or potential substance use concerns. Screening tools can be useful in making quick determinations about in-or-out decisions (e.g., who should be detained, who should be released on their own recognizance), in helping to classify offenders into low, moderate or high risk categories or whether a more thorough substance abuse or mental health assessment should be conducted. However, their usefulness is somewhat limited since they do not help the practitioner identify an offender’s criminogenic factors or the unique issues they have related to substance abuse or mental health.
  • Comprehensive Risk/Needs Assessment: Cover all major risk and needs factors (both static and dynamic) and help ascertain levels of risk and/or need that are correlated with outcome measures like recidivism. These assessments can also be useful in re-assessment to determine if needs changed after interventions have been introduced. The results from these assessments should be used to facilitate the development of case plans that can be aimed at addressing a full range of factors.
  • Specialized Tools: Specialized tools include things like alcohol and drug assessments. Typically, these types of assessments are ones that judges refer offenders to other professionals for. The key is that when referrals are made and these types of assessments are done that the results be provided to and considered by judges so they can be used in the formulation of a supervision plan.

Binge Drinking

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is defined as occasions of heavy drinking measured by the consumption of five or more (for males) and four or more (for females) drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

BAC is measured in grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. A BAC of .01 percent indicates .01 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. By July 2004, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation establishing that a driver with a BAC of .08 percent is considered legally intoxicated. Additionally, 42 states and the District of Columbia have laws and penalties for those who drive with elevated or “high” BAC levels.

Community Corrections

A component of the criminal justice system which offers programs and services in the community and/or viable alternatives to incarceration for individuals at various stages of the criminal justice process. Community corrections may include bail/bond programs; behavior change strategies; restitution, fines and fees collection; probation and parole supervision; electronic monitoring; community service; and day reporting centers.

Community Supervision

Refers to the conditional release and supervision of defendants/offenders in a community setting. A conditional release of a defendant/offender to community supervision can occur at varying times in the criminal justice process, including pretrial, pre-sentence, and post-sentence. Additionally, the availability of various community corrections supervision strategies vary by jurisdiction as resources vary.

Diversion Programs

A criminal justice program run by either a police department, court, a district attorney’s office, probation department or outside agency designed to afford offenders the opportunity to avoid criminal charges and a criminal record by completing various requirements dictated by the program (e.g. drug treatment, counseling, community service). Successful completion of all requirements could result in dismissal or reduction of charges; whereas, non-completion of requirements could result in more serious action being taken by the court.

Hardcore Drunk Drivers

Hardcore drunk drivers are those who drive with a high BAC of .15 percent or above, or who drive repeatedly with a .08 percent or greater BAC, as demonstrated by having more than one impaired driving arrest, and are highly resistant to changing their behavior despite previous sanctions, treatment, or education.

Heavy Alcohol Use

Five or more drinks on the same occasion on five or more days in the past 30 days.

Intensive Supervision Programs (ISP)

These programs are often viewed as an alternative to incarceration. Persons sentenced to ISP are typically those who, in the absence of intensive supervision, would have been sentenced to imprisonment. No two jurisdictions operate intensive supervision in exactly the same way. However, one characteristic of all ISPs is that they provide for very strict terms of probation or parole. This increased level of control is usually achieved through reduced case loads, increased number of contacts, and a range of required activities that can include treatment services, victim restitution, community service, employment, random urine and alcohol testing, electronic monitoring, and payment of a supervision fee.


Any form of release of an offender from an institution (jail, prison) to the community by a releasing authority (parole board) prior to the expiration of an imposed sentence. Upon release, the offender may be subject to an array of supervision terms and conditions.


A sentencing option whereby an offender who has been found guilty of a crime is permitted to remain in the community under court supervision. Typically, the court will impose conditions of supervision, such as paying a fine, completing community service activities, participating in drug and/mental health treatment, and education/employment requirements, which will be monitored by a probation officer. Failure to comply with the imposed terms could result in the offender being incarcerated to finish out the imposed sentence.

Rate Per 100,000 Population

The rate of alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities per 100,000 population is the number of alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities for every 100,000 persons in the population being measured. For example, an alcohol-impaired traffic fatality rate of 4.3 per 100,000 population nationally means that for every 100,000 people in the nation, there were nearly four alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities.

Repeat Offenders

The NHTSA/FARS data records prior driving records (convictions only, not violations) for driving while intoxicated events occurring within three years of the date of the crash. The same driver can have one or more of these convictions during this three year period. Drivers who have a prior conviction in this three year period are reported as repeat offenders.


Refers to the practice of considering individual characteristics (such as learning style, culture, gender, motivation level) when assigning individuals to community supervision and treatment programs.

Standard Drink of Alcohol

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government’s official nutrition policy defines a standard drink of alcohol as 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, 12 ounces of regular beer or 5 ounces of wine.

Staggered Sentencing

A court-ordered sentence, most notably used with DWI offenders, which mixes periods of incarceration with periods of community supervision. The court places an offender on probation for a specified time period, and orders a period of incarceration to be served in two or more installments occurring during the probation period. These installments are spaced several months to one year apart. The offender must serve the first incarceration segment immediately or soon after the sentencing date, and is advised by the court of the dates on which the offender must begin serving subsequent incarceration segments. If the offender attains goals during the periods of community supervision (such as treatment goals, sobriety goals, compliance goals) then the offender can submit a motion to the sentencing judge to waive the next installment of incarceration. This sentencing model allows the offender to influence their sentencing outcomes. (NHTSA, 2004).

Underage Drinking

Since 1988, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws that make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or publicly possess alcoholic beverages. While each state’s law varies and may contain exceptions (e.g., religious ceremonies) it is generally considered illegal for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol. Underage drinking refers to the consumption of beverage alcohol, defined as defined as a can or bottle of beer, a glass of wine or a wine cooler, a shot of liquor, or a mixed drink with distilled spirits in it, by persons 20 years of age and younger.