Educating officers to crack down on drugged drivers

Drug detection experts are coming to a DUI checkpoint near you. This, as the number of drugged drivers on the road climbs, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety. Earlier this week, the agency reported 30 percent of drivers killed in traffic collisions in the state in 2010 were under the influence of legal and/or illegal drugs, a sharp increase over 2006 numbers. While noting that DUI fatalities have been dropping,  the number of drugged driving is on the rise, the OTS said. Apparently, the public is not aware of the dangers of driving while under the influence of prescription and/or over the counter drugs, narcotics, stimulants or synthetic substitutes, the agency said. When combined with alcohol, the effect of both the drug and the beverage are heightened, the OTS reported. Locally, law enforcement officers have noticed the problem with drugged driving and the public's misinformation about the impact of drugs on their driving ability. “In 2009, half of the fatal collisions in Santa Cruz County were caused by drug DUI, with marijuana being far in the lead,” said Officer Sarah Jackson, spokesperson for the CHP's Aptos office. That year, Santa Cruz County logged seven fatal collisions that killed nine people, Jackson said. Of those seven crashes, four were caused by DUI drivers. Those four collisions killed six people, she said. “Sadly, when I speak to local high school students who are preparing to drive, the perception is that marijuana does not impair their ability to drive a vehicle,” Jackson continued. “I fear that the rise in marijuana use among teens resulting from the public acceptance may lead to more young lives lost in collisions.” To stop drugged drivers in their tracks, the OTS is teaming up with the CHP to train officers statewide on drugged driver detection. Because toxicology tests are expensive and drugged driving is under-reported and/or under-recognized, the duo have been using a federally funded program called, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the past five months, they've trained more than 700 officers from police departments all over California. What's more, the CHP is training officers to be drug recognition experts to work DUI checkpoints and other federally funded operations aimed at catching drugged drivers. The state currently has more than 1,000 drug recognition experts – more than any other state in the nation, the OTS reported. Sgt. Matt Eller, traffic sergeant for the Capitola Police Department applauds the effort to crack down on drugged driving. “Some jurisdictions prosecute aggressively, some do not,” he said. “For our Santa Cruz Courts to prosecute a marijuana DUI, under California Vehicle Code section 23152(a), the officer must show how impaired the driver is. The fact the driver has a medical marijuana card is only an issue for 'possession.'" That possession charge carries different penalties than a DUI, he said. Eller hopes drivers take heed that driving while under the influence of drugs is dangerous. “If you are impaired by prescription medication or medical marijuana, you should not drive,” he said.
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7 Responses to Educating officers to crack down on drugged drivers

  1. The Serf says:

    I have been documenting the Sentinel’s shameless left-wing biases for years.  

    That you have the audacity to comment on the Republican primaries when you are going to endorse every single left-wing and Democratic Party politician on the local, state and federal ballot as well as advocate for nutty propositions, tax increases and  for the expansion of the size and scope of the government for the next election in November like you always do makes you look foolish.

    Why even put up the charade any more with your sanctimony and hypocrisy?The broadcast media is no different.

    John King’s question was idiotic.  Newt’s former marriage has nothing to do with the duties enumerated in the US Constitution for president.

    Editors like you get your panties in a twist when conservatives and others who are awake and paying attention call you liberals in the media out on your biases.

    When has the Sentinel under your editorship  ever been remotely critical of  Barack Obama, the national and California Democratic Party leadership and the Santa Cruz liberal machine in the same way it has gone after Republicans or conservatives, who have next to no power in California and Santa Cruz politics?

    Why does the Sentinel refuse to even take a look at all the liberal candidates it has endorsed in recent years and compare their records with what they promised?

    Where are the positive measurable results of 30 years of  left-wing one party rule in Santa Cruz, Don?

    How is that structural double digit unemployment working out for Santa Cruz, Don?

    Tell me where is the cost/benefit analysis of 30 years of tax increases and government expansion, Don?

    It is easier to ridicule the Republican Party than to be actually accountable for your local, state, and federal liberal failures, isn’t it Don?

    You may have your liberal biases and ridicule and your lies and propaganda, but there are those of us who actually pay attention to the empirical evidence  and see your record of failure illuminated by the cold hard facts.

  2. The Grump says:

    If you have been documenting the Sentinels bias for years, why are you surprised now, and why do you feel that you have to come here and comment on it? Republicans have complained for years and years about the supposed liberal bias of the media, yet they still continue to watch, read, listen, and comment. You have every right to your opinion, and the right to voice it, just as the Editor has the right to do so in this OPINION blog.

    The past infidelities of Newt Gingrich are fair game in this election cycle, sorry, but if you are going to tout your credentials as a “family values” candidate, your past actions are going to be, and should be questioned. No one has gotten to the real meat of the story, the fact that Mr Gingrich was found guilty by his peers in the House of ethics violations and fined. 4 of the 5 Republicans on the panel voted to censure him, do you also blame that on the liberal media?

    Blaming unemployment, government expansion, etc solely on the President, or liberals is not a realistic argument. Past Republican Presidents have increased taxes (after telling us all to “read their lips” about not taxing us), Republican control of the House and Senate has led to the expansion of Government as much as when Democrats are in charge, and the President has little if any control over the overall economy. Those are empirical facts.

  3. The Serf says:

    First, I have never said that Don Miller can’t state his opinions.

     He can and I will continue to point out his liberal biases.

    The reason I feel obligated to comment is because the liberal media tends to operate as if its impartial and it isn’t.

    Second, how is Newt Gingrich’s  former wife’s interview fair game in a presidential debate?

    What kind of bearing does that have on my life or your life?

    Do you have the courage to answer that question?

    Why don’t you go read the US Constitution under Section II and point out where marital status and past relationships with former wives is part of the job description?

    When did Newt Gingrich ever say he was the “family values” candidate?

    What does Newt Gingrich and the ethics panel have to do with his ex-wife?

    One thing doesn’t have anything to do with the other.

    When have I ever said that unemployment is the fault of the president?  Never.

    The Democratic Party and the corrupt Santa Cruz liberal political machine have controlled Santa Cruz for 30 years with little to no opposition, so whatever economic factors that exist as a result of their policies in Santa Cruz, I shall make them responsible for, because economic decisions are mainly made at the local level, not the federal level.  Conversely, if Santa Cruz was at full employment and managed intelligently I would give them credit where credit is due.

    The fact is Santa Cruz has had worse unemployment than the rest of the state and nation for much of the past 30 years.  And guess what, there are parts of the United States that are booming.  We are a country of 310 million people and not every community is the same and  run as badly  as Santa Cruz, nor is most of the country as hostile to capitalism and business as Santa Cruz either.

    You don’t think there is a correlation between California and Santa Cruz’s hostility to business and the state of the economy?

    Thousands of businesses fleeing the state prove otherwise.  Did you know Santa Cruz has one of the worst bankruptcy rates in the entire country?

    Further, I kindly suggest you take a class on federalism and US civics, so you can learn to understand that we live in a federal republic with 50 sovereign states and thousands of sovereign municipalities that are close to autonomous from the federal government when it comes to economic policy.

    And the fact that the entire country is not under economic distress proves my point.  The parts of the country that are mostly  in deep economic doo doo are states and cities run by liberal Democrats.  Think of major cities controlled by liberals and then check out their unemployment rates if you don’t believe me.

    Lastly, there is not one statement I have ever made where I have blamed all the economic woes of Santa Cruz on the federal government, so I shall respectfully suggest that you are misrepresenting my point of view.  Indeed, I have made the opposite case time and time again.

  4. jskdn says:

    And what would you suggest for those who feel disenfranchised (to use the term Don Miller used in today’s editorial) by the news media? It’s apparently not enough that establishment press vastly under represents, even censors, the views of millions of citizens. Somehow you think they aren’t supposed to use the wholly inadequate excuse for an inclusive and open debate that commenting features represent? And of course this newspaper’s choice of Facebook commenting has largely removed even that option for those who refuse to have that private company run by wealthy elites with demonstrated ideological leanings control their information and identities. Enfranchisement in a democracy is not just a function of voting, it’s a function of being able to put forth ideas for consideration by the citizens of this country. Voting itself represent a tiny fraction of a conscientious civic expression, with the deliberative effort preceding voting being what is difficult and time-consuming.  

  5. John Cohen says:

    How can you talk about Newt Gingrich’s performance w/o talking about his racially coded language for Southern bigots.  Many other news outlets are covering Newt’s shameless “Southern Strategy”. Do you condone Newt’s racist rants?

  6. jskdn says:

    And those news outlets are…? 

  7. Rdesmet says:

    Our roads are dangerous all forms of impaired driving need to be addressed!

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