While drunk driving rates continue to fall nationwide, recent studies have discovered a new danger on the horizon: motorists driving while under the influence of drugs. The number of people driving under the influence of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications has escalated recently.
Drugged driving is a serious threat to the safety of drivers themselves and others on the road. Determining whether a driver is impaired due to the effects of drugs is not as easy for law enforcement officers to catch as drunk driving, making it especially dangerous.
Many police officers have difficulty recognizing the signs of drug-impaired driving. Police officers are routinely trained to detect intoxicated drivers, but when it comes to driving while under the influence, the indications are different, and often less obvious. Additionally, there is no roadside test, or Breathalyzer-equivalent test, to determine whether a driver may be intoxicated by substances other than alcohol.
“This alarming trend is posing challenges for traffic enforcement officials who do not have a roadside test for drugged driving and often have difficulty recognizing the signs,” according to Acting Somerset County Prosecutor, Michael H. Robertson.
Police in Somerset County have discovered a new weapon to battle this rising trend of drugged driving. The prosecutor’s office announced that eight law enforcement officers have been specially trained as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) to identify the signs of a drug-impaired driver.
These Drug Recognition Experts learn how to recognize impairment due to driving while under the influence of drugs, so that they can keep these drivers off the road and keep everyone on the road safe. They will assist on motor-vehicle stops where a driver appears impaired, but not drunk.
Currently, six municipalities in Somerset County will employ trained DRE officers. Bedminster, Bernards, Bridgewater, Montgomery, South Bound Brook, and Warren will have officers assisting traffic stops. Municipalities without specially trained officers can request them by contacting Somerset County Communications.
Next time you get behind the wheel after taking drugs, whether they are legal or illegal, think again. More New Jersey counties are suspected to train officers as DRE and place them on the roads, if this program in Somerset County is successful. The penalties for a DUI are the same as driving while intoxicated. A DUI conviction will result in a mandatory loss of license, steep fines, possible jail time, and the installation of an interlock ignition device.
If you have been charged with driving while intoxicated you need to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately. The Law Offices of Leon Matchin, LLC has been defending clients who have been charged with driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated for over ten years. Call me today at (732) 662-7658 (877)390-2998 for a free consultation.