Orange County Received Funding to Combat Drugged DrivingThree out of every ten individuals killed while driving in California in 2010 had either legal or illegal drugs in their blood at the time of the accident, according to reports released by the California Office of Traffic Safety. These figures indicate that drugged driving may be a major problem and one that can be deadlier even than drunk driving. In response, the state and federal government have created programs to combat the problem, from recognizing impaired drivers on the road to drug testing and prosecuting them. In addition, some counties, including Orange County, have received funding for state-of-the-art drug testing equipment.
“Compared to testing for the presence of alcohol on a motorist’s breath, determining drug intoxication can be expensive,” explained Orange County auto accident attorney James Ballidis.
Recognized for its forensic testing and testimony on investigations into driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the Orange County Crime Laboratory (OCCL), received a $350,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to purchase new instrumentation for the identification and quantitation of drugs in cases of suspected DUID. OCCL plans to use the funds to augment its portable evidentiary breath-testing program by purchasing and replacing instruments used to assist more than 27 law enforcement and government agencies in the county.
Law enforcement officers throughout the state will also receive specialized training through state and federal programs to detect and apprehend drug-impaired drivers. Developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) program has already trained more than 700 California officers, while more the 1000 officers in the state have been certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). District Attorney Offices are also receiving training on prosecuting DUID cases.
Given the increasing prevalence of drug impaired driving, legislators, traffic safety offices, and law enforcement should take measures similar to those used to combat drunk driving to address the problem. Funding for the recognition, testing, and prosecution of DUID cases is a strong first step.
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