CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As marijuana becomes more and more available in New York, driving while impaired cases are on the rise. NEWS10 talking with law officials on what they are doing to fight the increase in impaired drivers.
With alcohol, law enforcement can easily tell if you are an impaired driver but that’s not the case with marijuana. Now, drug recognition experts are needed to tell the difference.
“We’re seeing an increase in offenders being charged with driving while impaired,” said Rensselaer County Stop DWI coordinator, Michael Dinardo.
Attorney Eric Schillinger with Schillinger & Associates PLLC, says DRE’s are already being used.
“It’s not new, the use of a drug recognition expert as a police officer who has gotten specific additional training to be able to take a look at an individual and run a battery of tests,” said Schillinger.
Saratoga County Sheriff, Mike Zurlo, says it takes weeks to train an officer to be ready to detect impairment.
“It’s very intense training. You have to start out with field sobriety training. It’s a 12-hour course you have to pass first. Then, you get into the DRE training. I think the first portion of phase one is 12 hours and [then] it’s 56 hours after that. Then you have to be qualified in 12 field training observations,” said Sheriff Zurlo.
Schillinger says he is hopeful for a positive outcome.
“[What] we’re hoping for is we’re gonna avoid seeing, is a substantial uptick in people being charged, really, erroneously for driving while impaired,” said Schillinger.
The cost of getting caught is not cheap.
“Depending on exactly what happens in your case, it’s a fair estimate to say one of these cases can cost someone upwards of $10,000. You know, certainly a second offense will blow right through that door,” said Schillinger.
But one thing is for certain when it comes to roadway safety.
“We’re going patrol the roads and make sure they’re safe. And then we encounter anybody that’s been under the operation of a motor vehicle by using marijuana or any other drug which can be detected by our DRE through observations, they will be processed,” said Zurlo.