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Drug-impaired driving targeted in Labor Day DUI crackdown

Most people in Lackawanna County understand that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. Now, a state-wide crackdown on DUI offenders is casting a wider net: as part of the "Get sober or get pulled over" DUI enforcement campaign, state and local police officials are making a special effort to spot drivers who are under the influence of various drugs, including prescription medications.

The executive director of the PA DUI Association, C. Stephen Ernie, announced his organization's support for the campaign. He stated that ""Most drivers today understand that drinking alcohol and operating a vehicle don't mix and they can be involved in a crash or arrested, but we have more work to do when it comes to getting them to understand that some prescription medicines or even over-the-counter medicines can cause a driver to be impaired to the point they are incapable of safely driving." According to the Association's records, 4,964 crashes in Pennsylvania in 2014 involved drivers who were using some form of drug that impaired their ability to drive safely.

The effort to crack down on drugged driving has included the training of police officers to be Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). At the moment, police departments lack any kind of device that can measure the amount drugs in a driver's bloodstream in the same way that a breathalyzer measures blood alcohol content. DREs are trained to recognize both the effect of drugs and the kind of drug being used.

Being charged with violating the state's laws against drunk and impaired driving is a serious matter, but anyone who is the object of drunk driving charges must remember that he or she is innocent until guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone who has been charged with a DUI or drug-impaired driving may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in defending such cases. An experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can evaluate the facts of the case, the strength of the charges and the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.

Source: LancasterOnline, "Drugged driving is special focus of Labor Day DUI crackdown," Tim Buckwalter, Aug. 23, 2015

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