Pennsylvania hiring more officers to fight drugged driving

Whenever there is a crime that receives a significant amount of media attention, law enforcement officers in the affected area are often instructed to maintain a greater presence in order to deter potential offenders. More police means more arrests, which can help a community feel like its concerns are being addressed.

In Pennsylvania, drugged driving is one criminal offense that is on the rise throughout the state. In 2004, the state created a special Drug Evaluation and Classification Program to help train officers to potentially spot drugged drivers. Since the program was established, arrests for drugged driving have tripled, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Unlike those who are arrested for DUI due to alcohol, it can be more challenging for law enforcement to detect drug use in motorists. Signs of impairment, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, will not always be present in motorists under the influence of drugs. Each drug causes a different reaction, and may impact each user differently, requiring different tests to determine the extent of impairment.

When a police officer suspects that a person is driving under the influence of drugs, the officer must call a drug recognition expert (DRE) to the scene. These are specially-trained officers who recognize some of the signs that a motorist is driving under the influence of drugs. The DREs will then begin the next steps of the process. This includes administering certain field sobriety-like tests to check the motorist for potential signs of drug use.

The DREs have a lot of power in these cases. Based upon their training, they are allowed to decide whether the investigation should continue. This may result in the individual being forced to take a blood test to determine which drugs, if any, are present in the motorist's system.

The Pennsylvania State Police has recently added more of these highly-trained officers, and municipalities have also increased the number of its officers receiving DRE training. This means that more officers will be able to conduct drugged DUI investigations, leading to more motorists facing these charges.

If you have been arrested for drugged or drunk driving, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. It will be necessary to review the facts of your arrest, to learn more about the potential defenses that may be available for your situation.

You have rights, and you need to protect yourself during this difficult time. You may be afraid, and not be aware of the potential penalties you may be facing. It is extremely important that you understand the consequences of a conviction. Any additional offenses will only increase the amount of time that you will lose your driving privileges.