Processing DUIs during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Considerations for Law Enforcement

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Processing DUIs during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Considerations for Law Enforcement

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The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak presents unique challenges for law enforcement, one of which is safely processing a DUI suspect when appropriate, and in accordance with individual agency guidelines. This tool provides additional considerations for keeping officers and subjects safe from possible COVID-19 exposure.

Based upon recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical representatives and the scientific committee of the IACP
Technical Advisory Panel for the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program, the following guidance is solely intended to reduce the risk of exposure.

The IACP urges policing agencies to consider the
following enhanced precautions for officers and DREs
during DUI processing:

  1. Strive to maintain a six-foot distance and limit closer proximity without PPE to less than 5 minutes total.
  2. Use appropriate precautions for breath testing. During this current coronavirus crisis, consider “blood only” testing, if permitted by your jurisdiction’s policy.
  3. Consider conducting DUI processing and DRE Evaluations in an area with good air exchange (where the subject would blow away from the officer), in a large room when possible, and with proper safety precautions including the use of disposable gloves and other personal protective equipment. DREs should consider adding a face shield to your DRE kit (like the one shown or similar). The oral cavity examination during a DRE evaluation poses the highest risk component—Move from side to side to get a better view and avoid standing directly in front of the subject. Face shields should be used within six-feet of the subject, if possible. A face mask on the subject enhances officer safety, and could be removed during an oral cavity examination.
  4. Consider asking the subject additional interview questions:
    • Have you received any medical treatment related to COVID-19?
    • Have you been having any fevers or chills in the last few days? (However, remember the effects of some common drugs of abuse can give these sensations).
    • Do you have any “cold” symptoms? Cough, runny nose, sore throat?
    • If COVID-19 is suspected, contact a trained healthcare provider to assess and transport the subject to a healthcare facility, if appropriate.
  5. Use proper hand-washing/sanitizing upon completion of the contact.
     

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