CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — According to the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, one out of every four impaired driving arrests is drug-related.
“Drugged driving is off the charts now,” said Margie Sadler with Mothers Against Drunk Driving West Virginia. “It’s way more prevalent.”
Sadler said the M.A.D.D. organization expanded its mission to include Mothers Against Drugged Driving.
“We see the climb,” she said. “We feel it. We know it from our victims and statistics. We know drugged driving is at an all-time high.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says driving after marijuana use is more common than driving after alcohol use. In addition, specific drugs differ in their action in the brain, causing things like impaired judgement of time and distance and behaviors like aggressiveness and reckless driving.
“The one that scares me the most is driving under a controlled substance,” Putnam County Sheriff Steve Deweese said.
Deweese said the behavior and demeanor of drunk and drugged drivers are the same, however the eyes are the key when someone is under the influence of a controlled substance.
Deweese said deputies administer a test in the field to find out if the driver has been using drugs.
“It’s safe to say that 95 percent of arrests we make today is a motorist that is driving under the influence of a controlled substance,” he said.
The penalties for drunk and drugged driving are the same.
The sheriff said there’s little law enforcement can do but retrain officers to deal with drugged drivers.