With recreational marijuana now legalized in many of the states surrounding New York, law enforcement is continuing to crack down on drug-related traffic accidents.
Over the past few years, drug-related traffic accidents have been on the rise. From 2015 to 2016, there was an increase of over 100 drug-related crashes.
“We’re seeing prescription drug abuse out there, we’re seeing all types of illicit drugs, and with states around us, and countries around us that are legalizing illicit drugs we need to be ready,” Chuck DeWeese, Assistant Commissioner for Governor’s Trafic Safety Committee, said.
On Friday, nine law enforcement officers from around the state graduated from a three-week training program as nationally-certified Drug Recognition Experts. They now join the ranks of 270 other drug recognition experts that say they are seeing success from their training.
“There are different general indicators for each drug category but a lot of it has to do with the eyes. What the eyes are doing can tell you a lot as far as if someone is impaired or not,” Trooper Joseph Sparacino, Valedictorian of DRE 2018 graduating class, said.
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee says they hope to continue in training more officers so that each department can have at least a few drug recognition experts to call on if needed.
“When a normal officer pulls someone over and detects that something is just isn’t right, what they’ll do is call one of the DRE’s and say can you come out to the scene here, I think something’s wrong, they are blowing a .00 on the breath test unit but something seems to be wrong, they’ll call a DRE out to the scene and have them do an evaluation,” DeWeese said..
New York has been graduating officers from this program since 1987 and is one of 46 states that have a drug recognition expert program.