More Than Alcohol

For years, the term "DUI", or driving under the influence, primarily meant alcohol. and while it's also referred to drugs, that's increasingly becoming an issue as much, if not more, than drinking. and it doesn't have to mean illegal drugs.

"The availability of prescription pills is so high, you're getting people overdosing on Xanax, Vicodin and those kinds of drugs," Detective Sergeant Scott Smeeks, Washington County Sheriff's Office. "And for some reason, there's an easy access to morphine."

Smeeks, a fellow deputy, and a member of the Washington County Prosecutor's Office recently took part in a training exercise aimed at helping officers recognize DUIs involving drugs as well as alcohol. For instance, a breath test probably won't reveal the influence of drugs.

That, Smeeks says, is more likely to be found other ways, such as the condition of a driver's eyes.

"Someone may be able to say their ABC's fine, even if they're intoxicated," he says. "But their coordination, especially if they're intoxicated, may have things they may not be able to control, such as their eyes. There are certain things we look for."

Such as how they're dilated. and the suspicion of the influence of drugs may call for a urine test instead of a breath test.

Another program training officers on drug-impaired drivers is being criticized.

It involves conducting interviews, taking vital signs and even checking muscle tone.

The Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says those assessments aren't backed up by science.


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