HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — PennDOT and
the Pennsylvania State Police are reminding motorists that driving
while under the influence of prescription and over-the-counter
medication can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence
of alcohol and illegal drugs.
PennDOT will work with state and municipal police departments
throughout Halloween week to step up impaired-driving enforcement,
with increased emphasis on driving under the influence of drugs
“Many of us don’t realize the serious side effects of
medications that some people take every day,” said PennDOT
Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. “The combination of cold medicine
and alcohol or choosing to take an extra painkiller could have
potentially devastating effects if you get behind the wheel.”
PennDOT data shows that crashes involving drivers suspected of
drug use – legal or illegal – are increasing. Last
year, there were 451 crashes and 25 fatalities involving drivers
suspected of being impaired by any type of drug, which is up from
381 crashes and 21 fatalities in 2008. Crashes involving legal drug
use have climbed from 74 in 2008 to 110 in 2009.
In addition to crashes, DUI-D arrests have risen to more than
10,500 last year, which is a result of more law enforcement
officers being trained as Drug Recognition Experts, or DREs. There
are currently more than 75 DREs that are able to characterize and
stop impaired motorists in seven major drug categories.
A DRE officer is consulted when a driver seems to be impaired
and their blood alcohol concentration doesn’t match the level of
impairment, indicating drugs might be involved. State and municipal
police officers in Pennsylvania have made more than 47,000 DUI-D
arrests since the program began in 2004.
“Drug recognition experts are playing an increasingly important
role in law enforcement efforts to take impaired drivers off the
roads,” said State Police Commiss