Drugged driving on rise in Phoenix

Many motorists are familiar with the laws regarding drunk driving. If they plan on drinking, they know they need to find a designated driver or another way to get home safely. The harsh penalties for a DUI conviction have made an impression on Arizona drivers.

When people think about DUI, many of them immediately connect the offense to alcohol. While this makes up the majority of DUI arrests and convictions, arrests for driving under the influence of drugs are starting to increase drastically in Arizona.

According to the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety (AZGOHS), the number of DUI arrests dropped during 2012. However, DUI arrests due to drug use increased nearly 12 percent over 2011 numbers. These arrests include motorists under the influence of illegal drugs, such as marijuana, and prescription medications. Many drivers are unaware that they can be arrested for DUI if the medication they are taking makes them impaired.

This increase has caught the attention of law enforcement officers throughout the Phoenix metro area. Officers have pledged to be more aggressive in taking drugged drivers off of area roadways.

Drugged driving arrests differ from those for DUI. Most officers have had training regarding detecting motorists under the influence of alcohol. They have probably made several traffic stops where a driver was exhibiting signs of impairment, such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes. Officers may then have the driver perform field sobriety tests before deciding whether or not to arrest the motorist.

A drugged-driving traffic stop presents more challenges for police officers, because many of them do not have the training necessary to determine when a driver is under the influence of drugs. Each drug will cause a different reaction, which means that there are no tell-tale signs that can be counted on to show impairment.

Specially-trained drug recognition expert officers will need to conduct an investigation to determine if the motorist is under the influence of a drug. This can include tests which will check a motorist's reactions. The officer also has the option of ordering the motorist to take a blood test if drug use is suspected. This information can then be used to establish evidence of impairment, and may result in DUI charges against the motorist. Many officers in the Phoenix metro area have been trained in detecting drugged drivers.

If you are charged with driving under the influence, it is important to understand that there will be serious penalties if you are convicted. Drunk driving cases can be very complex, and it is important to work with a criminal defense attorney that is familiar with these types of cases. You have options, and you need to present a strong defense against these accusations. Each conviction will only increase the potential punishments that you may be facing.

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