Through a grant from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) and GHSA, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) established a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) DUI Training Pilot Program for law enforcement to ensure officers have the skills and tools necessary to safely stop trucks and other large vehicles. The grant was awarded in 2020 and was extended through 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To create the program, WTSC first developed a curriculum and presentation for law enforcement on how to safely stop a CMV and detect drug influence in a CMV operator. While developing the curriculum, they engaged the Washington State Police (WSP) to help develop the content as well as participate as instructors during the trainings. WTSC then identified regions throughout the state to hold their training program. The trainings were split into two days: The first day included a review of the curriculum and the second day involved officers applying the knowledge they learned the day before during real-life situations on the road.
Due to public interest, several news articles were published about the program, raising awareness of the trainings and how they can improve highway safety. The National Traffic Law Center and the International Association of Chiefs of Police both published articles, and The Guardian put the program on their front page.
WTSC has experienced extraordinary success with the program, averaging about two DUI arrests every class. During a training that was conducted in Pierce County, the class arrested two impaired CMV operators; one for DUI involving alcohol and the other for DUI involving cannabis. They also evaluated another CMV operator, but the WSP Drug Recognition Expert assisting the class determined the operator was not impaired.
During one of the trainings, a student attendee said, “I can’t believe I got a DUI out of a CMV. This class really opened my eyes to take a harder look at CMVs: stopping them, investigating them and arresting them for DUI.” With feedback like this, WTSC has changed perspectives and made Washington roads safer with their CMV DUI Training Pilot Program.