Impaired Driving Crackdowns

Place of Last Drink (POLD)

Studies that show that up to 50% of people driving under the influence had their last drink at licensed establishments.1 One study from the early 1990s found that increased enforcement on establishments identified by DUI arrestees led to a 36% decrease in DUI arrests from those establishments.2 In a smaller study, an intervention consisting of citations and warnings led to a decrease of number of DUI's coming from bars and restaurants, dropping from 31.7% to 23.3% after the 1 year intervention.3 

There is a strong indication that the enforcement and prosecution of laws governing the responsible consumption and distribution of alcohol should have a significant impact on the reduction of injuries and fatalities resulting from the consumption of alcohol. However, few state ALE agencies currently receive POLD data. In 2001, only four state ALE agencies reported receiving this data; this has increased to 12 state ALE agencies in 2012. The 12 states collecting POLD data in 2012 received between 0-6,000 place of last drink notifications per state.4 

While there have been no systematic evaluations of the use of POLD in reducing over service and other alcohol-related problems, collecting POLD data is recommended by the National Traffic Safety Board as a strategy for preventing impaired driving. The chairman of the NTSB has said that "Better data leads to better interventions and results in more lives saved. Collecting information on the "place of last drink" can serve as an incentive for alcohol-serving establishments to better train their employees in recognizing under-age or intoxicated patrons". See Appendix H for a power point overview of POLD. 

Collecting these data provide information on potentially problematic alcohol outlets that may be over-serving individuals or violating other alcohol laws. State and local law enforcement agencies can use these data to target their enforcement operations on those establishments that are repeatedly reported as the last location where an impaired driver was served. The data can help local law enforcement and planning agencies improve internal oversight of high-risk drinking settings, and it can be used to promote improved serving practices and alcohol policies of retail alcohol establishments to reduce a variety of alcohol-related problems, including DUIs. An easy way to increase awareness by retailers of over service laws is to send a letter to each establishment identified in a POLD report. See Appendix I for a sample POLD letter that can be sent to establishments. Lastly, having this type of summary data can help build broad public support for effective prevention and enforcement measures.

  1. O'Donnell, M. A. (1985). Research on drinking locations of alcohol-impaired drivers: Implications for prevention policies. Journal of Public Health Policy,6(4), 510-525. Ventura County. (2009). Ventura County Place of Last Drink Survey: SPOTLIGHT: Bars, Clubs and Restaurants. Ventura County, CA.
  2. McKnight, A. J., & Streff, F. M. (1994). The effect of enforcement upon service of alcohol to intoxicated patrons of bars and restaurants. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 26(1), 79-88.
  3. Ramirez, R., Nguyen, D., Cannon, C., Carmona, C., & Freisthler, B. (2008). A Campaign to Reduce Impaired Driving Through Retail-Oriented Enforcement in Washington State. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DOT HS 810 913
  4. National Liquor Law Enforcement Association. (2013). National Liquor Law Enforcement Association: 2012 Enforcement Data. Calverton, MD.  Available online:


State alcohol enforcement agencies may receive this information from local and/or state law enforcement agencies or the judicial system. Ideally the data will be collected in a systematic system as possible, and the following options can be utilized to collect POLD data:

  • Sobriety checkpoints
  • Roadside during motor vehicle stops
  • Subsequent to arrest for DUI and/or other crimes
  • At sentencing
While there are basic data elements that should be included on a POLD form, getting additional information related to the issue of over service may be helpful in understanding the problem in your jurisdiction and may provide additional ideas for educational and/or enforcement interventions. Appendix J is a sample data collection form that provides a list of variables that would be ideal to collect as part of a model POLD data collection system and can be modified to meet the needs of your agency's reporting systems.

Working with the media to show the outcomes of your POLD data collection system can be a good tool in promoting your agency, showing the positive work your agency is doing to keep the community safe. Another benefit is to educate the public on the laws prohibiting over service in licensed establishments and increasing the awareness that retailers who violate this law will be put on notice and will likely receive additional enforcement operations in their licensed establishments. See Appendix K for a sample POLD press release.