The Century Council’s efforts to eliminate drunk driving have included a special focus on the most deadly offenders, hardcore drunk drivers, who account for nearly six out of ten alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities on our nation’s roads. The Council has played a leadership role in addressing the hardcore drunk driver problem and has highlighted effective strategies and tactics for the swift identification, certain punishment and effective treatment of these offenders.
The Hardcore Drunk Driving Project was launched by The Century Council in 1997. Since the project’s inception, numerous materials have been developed and distributed including two comprehensive sourcebooks with state specific statistics, a documentary, community forums, the creation of a national agenda on the issue, and ongoing research regarding hardcore drunk drivers.
In 2000, prior to our work with the judiciary, The Century Council joined with like-minded traffic safety organizations to form The Coalition to Fight Hardcore Drunk Driving. Current members include The Century Council, The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), The American Automobile Association (AAA), The National Center for DWI Courts, The National District Attorneys Association and Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. This coalition has provided expertise, effective strategies and tactics, and assistance with comprehensive hardcore drunk driving legislation in states across the country.
The Century Council believes the judiciary is a critical component in addressing hardcore drunk driving. In 2002, The Council formed a strategic partnership with the National Association of State Judicial Educators (NASJE) and other judicial education organizations to provide judges and judicial educators with a comprehensive resource designed to help them effectively adjudicate hardcore drunk driving cases in their courts.
History of the Hardcore Drunk Driving Guide
The Judicial Education Advisory Panel created The Hardcore Drunk Driving Judicial Guide.
This publication combined the panel’s ideas and experiences with research in the field of hardcore drunk driving and highlighted effective strategies, tactics and programs appropriate for implementation across the nation. It was designed to serve as a resource for judges and judicial educators as they addressed the growing number of drunk drivers appearing in their courts.
The publication of The Hardcore Drunk Driving Judicial Guide was accompanied by an aggressive judicial education initiative. The Century Council and NASJE worked with state supreme courts to incorporate educational sessions on hardcore drunk driving adjudication within annual judicial conferences. Each hardcore drunk driving judicial education workshop emphasized interactive teaching techniques employing a panel of judges, subject matter experts and a judicial educator.
This format created an interactive, supportive learning environment during which judges were encouraged to articulate their systemic frustrations with DWI adjudication. They were then instructed on how to apply The Hardcore Drunk Driving Judicial Guide’s recommendations to help reduce drunk driving recidivism.
The Hardcore Drunk Driving Judicial Education workshop was presented to more than 4,000 judges in more than 34 states and also during national judicial conferences.
The Century Council then funded an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the program by Maureen Conner, Ph.D., an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University and the director of the Judicial Administration Program. The evaluation measured knowledge, attitude, and behavior gained from the judicial education workshop in a three-phase evaluation design (pre-workshop, post-workshop, and follow-up interview).
The evaluation showed that the Hardcore Drunk Driver Judicial Education Workshop had a positive impact on participants. Most notably, it conveyed new knowledge and changed judges’ behaviors and attitudes towards sentencing, treatment and sanctions. The workshops were effective in:
- Improving judicial knowledge of the DWI offender
- Creating a better understanding of the judiciary’s role in sentencing drunk drivers
- Improving perceptions and attitudes of adjudication and sentencing strategies
- Increasing the likelihood judicial officials would utilize specialized adjudication and sentencing strategies
The evaluation results also revealed significant increases from the pre-test to follow-up in all areas that measured attitudes toward adjudication and sentencing strategies. These results suggested that the workshop was not only effective in the short run, but that the impact was sustained over time. Additionally, workshop participants reported a significant change in the use of the key adjudication and sentencing strategies highlighted during the workshop presentations.
In 2007, The Century Council was awarded the prestigious Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award by the Governors Highway Safety Association in recognition of its judicial education program’s notable achievement and contribution in the field of highway safety.