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Pennsylvania Hiring More Drug Recognition Experts

As discussed earlier in an earlier blog posting, more and more attention is being focused on addressing the issue of drugged driving. While the majority of DUI arrests concern motorists under the influence of alcohol, police are taking a more aggressive approach toward developing the necessary tools to catch drugged drivers.

The Pennsylvania State Police recently trained 20 more drug recognition experts (DREs). The DREs are the officers responsible for examining suspected motorists of drugged driving. Marijuana and heroin are very commonly seen by officers making traffic stops, as well as many different types of prescription drugs.

But how serious is the problem in Pennsylvania? The State Police says that drugged driving arrests have doubled since 2004, meaning that over 6,000 people have been tested by DREs after a traffic stop. Nationwide, it is believed that drugged driving makes up anywhere from 2 to 16 percent of DUIs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While states are placing more attention on drugged drivers, there is difficulty developing legislation that clearly states when an individual is considered to be operating under the influence. Different drugs have different effects, so each individual case must receive individualized attention.

Much of the legislation that has been proposed in states around the country has focused on driving under the influence of marijuana, especially since medical marijuana use becomes more common. However, this also presents a problem, because some users have more tolerance for the drug and will not display any signs of impairment.

As states wrestle with this issue, more arrests can be expected for drugged driving. Since these cases rely so heavily on an officer's discretion, there may be several opportunities to challenge the behavior of law enforcement. Knowing the options that are available can help a person present a strong defense against these accusations.

Source: Philly.com "On the Lookout for Drugged Drivers" Peter Mucha, May 18, 2012.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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