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Schumer calls for drugged-driving research

By: Daily Record Staff//January 31, 2012

Schumer calls for drugged-driving research

By: Daily Record Staff//January 31, 2012//

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U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer is calling for passage of legislation that would provide funding to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that, for the first time, would allow for research on developing technologies that can help officers identify drugged drivers on site, at traffic stops.

The bill would also provide funds for states to help increase training of officers to spot the tell-tale signs of drugged drivers.

He and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice revealed Sunday that drugged-driving arrests in New York state have risen 35 percent since 2001, at the same time that prescription drug abuse is becoming epidemic.

Throughout the state, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, there were 2,248 drugged-driving arrests in 2011 (not including those identified at the same time as an alcoholic related DWI stop), up from 1,669 in 2001.

In the Rochester Finger Lakes region, there were 114 drug-driving arrests in 2011, up from 73 in 2001

Despite the growth, however, the total number of arrests pale in comparison to drunk-driving arrests, in large part because of the difficulty in identifying drugged drivers on the road.

Unlike drunk driving, police departments do not have the technology to detect drugged drivers at traffic stops. Additionally, underscoring the need for better training, drugged drivers often don’t immediately demonstrate the same level of disorientation that drunk drivers do, making it more difficult for police officers to identify those under the influence of narcotics during routine traffic stops.

The legislation Schumer is pushing, the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2011, otherwise known as Mariah’s Act of 2011, would provide research funding and grants.

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