Assessing Impaired Driving Trends Using Comprehensive Testing & a Multistate Approach



Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 from 1pm - 2pm ET.


In 2021, traffic fatalities increased by 10% compared to 2020 and traffic fatality counts were the highest since 2004. Statistical projections for 2022 show a marginal decrease of 0.3 percent compared to 2021. As drug-impaired driving continues to increase in the United States, creating significant public safety concerns, the CFSRE has played an integral part in monitoring epidemiological aspects of drugs in DUID cases. Documentation of this epidemiological information assists in the development of evidence-based public policy. The CFSRE operates in conjunction with recognized leaders from forensic laboratories and law enforcement agencies with extensive backgrounds in drug-impaired driving. This initiative began in 2007 and has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the human performance forensic toxicology community. Understanding the impact of drug-impaired driving in the United States requires 1) advanced analytical research to confirm the substance(s) present in an individual’s system, 2) comparative data from case review in collaboration with drug recognition expert (DRE) evaluations, and 3) surveying of the drug landscape as drug trends and combinations change or evolve.

A staple in the CFSRE drug-impaired research program is our DUID laboratory survey titled “Recommendations for Drug Testing in DUID & Traffic Fatality Investigations.” The survey began in 2007 and is now followed by triennial updates from the CFSRE, the most recent occurring in 2020. The structure of the survey is designed to gain insights on policies for testing, understand the most frequently encountered drugs by laboratories, and identify the technology used for screening and confirmation testing. Additional areas of the survey include laboratory statistics, differences between matrices (e.g. blood, urine, and oral fluid), compliance with the recommendations, and laboratory resources. The survey results are used to inform the National Safety Council’s Alcohol, Drug and Impairment Division (NSC-ADID) in writing the minimum guidelines for DUID testing in the United States. In the most recently published recommendations (2021), only 35 drugs and/or metabolites are included in the primary (Tier I) scope. The NSC-ADID identified a second list of drugs (Tier II) with significant impairing potential but whose prevalence or contribution is not well understood. Tier II includes emerging NPS and prescription drugs. Many laboratories test only for Tier I drugs, however, some do not test for all. Overall, there is a lack of information available on which Tier II as well as missing Tier I substances are contributing to drug-impaired driving cases and fatal crashes.

Previous research investigating DUID data in the state of Pennsylvania showed that 56% of the cases were cases in which only a Tier I and/or Tier II drug was identified with an additional 24% comprising of drugs and alcohol. Drugs classified as Tier II drugs, such as diphenhydramine (7.4%), gabapentin (4.3%), hydroxyzine (3.5%) were detected with greater frequency than some Tier I drugs like benzoylecgonine (6.9%), alprazolam (3.5%) and cocaine (3.4%). Additional Tier II drugs detected with some frequency were 8-aminoclonazepam (3.1%), fluorofentanyl (2.8%) and trazodone (2.7%). These data are consistent with national trends and show the shift in the use of illicit substances, which quickly outpaces the rate at which laboratories can update methods to include trending drugs.

Having real-time information on impaired driving trends allow laboratories to make data-supported and informed decisions about what drugs to include in the DUID testing scope and how to best prioritize resources to maximize drug detection. This webinar aims to provide an update on impaired driving trends that encompasses data collected from several states. Further aims of the webinar include educating laboratories about initiatives like the Regional Toxicology Liaison (RTL) program, which can provide resources and training to support laboratories performing forensic toxicology testing.


Detailed Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will hear the latest updates from the CFSRE regarding drug positivity in suspected impaired driving cases using a large data set from multiple states tested using a comprehensive scope.
  • Attendees will be able to assess the impacts of stop-limit testing at various blood alcohol concentrations as it relates to drug positivity.
  • Attendees will learn about the Regional Toxicology Liaison (RTL) program and resources laboratories can leverage through the RTL program.


*Once you have completed all requirements for the webinar you will have access to your certificate for download. You can find your certificates in the Awards tab at the top of the page. The webinar's content has been reviewed by the ABFT and ABC, and determined to be acceptable for submission to the ABFT or ABC for continuing education credit!

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