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Monday, April 01, 2013

DUI Up RE: Med Marijuana & Prescriptions

Phoenix sees increase in drug-related 

DUI offenses

By Kelly Kleber* Our thanks to Jann Kornmann for bringing this to our attention.

As the percentage of alcohol-related driving under the influence offenses continue to decrease in Phoenix, the number of drug-related driving offenses have increased in recent years.  Driving under the influence (DUI) is the act of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs including illegal drugs, medical marijuana and prescription medication.

Phoenix Police Department Sgt. Trent Crump attributes the rise in DUI arrests to a combination of stricter enforcement and more people abusing illegal and prescription drugs.  Arizona has several hundred officers trained to recognize the symptoms of drug impairment, Crump said.  Officers are better trained now to pinpoint someone impaired by a substance other than alcohol, compared to only a few decades ago.

Alberto C. Gutier, Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) director, says the increase in drug-related DUI arrests can also be attributed to the availability of prescription drugs. 

Although the percentage of total DUI arrests has decreased, the number of drug-related DUI arrests has significantly increased, Gutier said.  The GOHS reported that the number of DUI arrests decreased by 13 percent in 2012 from 2011. Meanwhile, the number of drug-related DUI arrests increased by 12 percent, increasing the overall DUI arrests to 14 percent.

A significant factor contributing to the increase in total DUI arrests in Phoenix in 2011 was due to driving under the influence of drugs, which included arrests for driving under the influence of medical marijuana, illegal drugs, and prescription medications, even if the pills were dispensed legally.   One of the primary reasons for the increase in drug-related DUI arrests is because many people who are pulled over for this offense are not aware that driving under the influence of medical marijuana or prescription drugs is illegal, Crump said.

 • Kelly Kleber is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

 

Posted By: STS  First @ 11:56:17 AM

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