After the Beckley Police Department makes more than 200 DUI arrests last year, officers said it’s not just drunk drivers out on the roads. Law enforcement agencies are starting to see more drugged drivers out on the roads compared to drunk drivers.
As a police officer for more than seven years, Joey Koher is no stranger to the drug problem throughout the state. Koher said he seen an impaired driver out on the road almost every week during DUI checks .
“We used to see blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and alcohol odor, the catch all phrase for impaired drivers,” said the West Virginia State Coordinator for the Drug Recognition Expert Program, Joey Koher.
Koher said there’s been a change in what they see in drivers during DUI checks. Officers see less drunk drivers, but more drivers who are drugged up. “Burns on the lips with injection marks,” said Koher.
It’s those drug-related symptoms police now see in drivers on a day-to-day basis. “Since 2011, we’ve had a little under 4% of our DUI arrests were drug related and now in 2016 it’s 32%” said Koher.
Law enforcement throughout West Virginia said the most common drugs they see are opioids, heroin and methamphetamine. Departments said this isn’t only concerning but it’s a danger to everyone out on the road. “There are going to be additional crashes- there are going to be people passed out on intersections, there’s just a huge highway safety that they offer,” said Koher.
While there’s no simple breathalyzer test to determine if a person is high on drugs, there are measures law enforcement takes to see if a driver’s impaired. “We look at some of their cognitive issues, their physical issues, their speech patterns,” said Koher.
By taking those precautions, Koher hopes to educate other law enforcement agencies on what to do and to prevent what could be a deadly situation on the road.