Drugged Driving Arrests on the Rise in New York

For the past several years, authorities have focused a great deal of attention on drinking and driving. Lawmakers passed laws instituting increasingly strict penalties for DWI offenses and police have stepped up enforcement efforts. Officials are now turning their attention to a related matter: drugged driving. Arrests for driving while ability impaired by drugs, have risen steadily in New York, and authorities predict that trend will continue.

More Drivers Arrested

Arrests for DWAI-Drugs in New York have risen by 35 percent since 2001, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. In 2001, police arrested 1,669 drivers for drugged driving. In 2011, the number of drugged driving arrests rose to 2,248.

More Prescription Drugs

Authorities cite two key reasons for the increase in drugged driving arrests. One factor is the growing number of people who use and abuse prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. State and federal officials are focusing more attention and resources on prescription drug abuse. State Attorney General Eric. T. Schneiderman has described the trade in illegal prescription drugs as "the nation's fastest-growing drug problem."

More Officer Training

Another reason that more drivers are arrested for drugged driving is that police are receiving training to identify signs of drug use in drivers. The state has about 135 officers trained as Drug Recognition Experts. These DREs have taken 200 hours of training to better detect physiological signs of drug use in drivers suspected of being under the influence, and to use other methods of detecting drugs in people's systems. When officers arrest a driver whom they suspect to be under the influence of drugs, they call a DRE to examine the suspect while in custody.

Sen. Charles Schumer is sponsoring national legislation that would increase grant money to states with such officer training programs, which would allow New York to have even more DREs.

Talk to a Lawyer

Authorities in New York take drugged driving offenses very seriously, as evidenced by the time and resources they devote to training police to identify suspected drugged drivers. If you are facing DWAI-Drugs charges, contact a seasoned criminal defense attorney who can help defend your rights.