WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) – Law enforcement nationwide are preparing for Labor Day weekend with additional resources out looking for impaired drivers. FOX 12 spoke with Sgt. Josh Wilson, a drug recognition evaluator with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, ahead of the holiday weekend.
Wilson says driving high is starting to rival driving drunk on the roads, making it more difficult during enforcement periods, where officers are tasked with detecting subtle impairments.
“Our alcohol-related fatalities had taken a pretty dramatic drop from the year or two before,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately, the overall fatality number didn’t budge, because that was replaced by the drastic increase of DUII drug-related fatalities.”
Wilson has more than 700 DUII arrests under his belt in Washington County.
“Our agency alone averages about a thousand DUII arrests per year,” Wilson said.
He is one of a handful of area deputies who work in knowing exactly what drug a person is under the influence of. He says it is sometimes challenging during a traffic stop where alcohol isn’t the intoxicant.
“Police officers … they can recognize pretty easily someone who is impaired by alcohol,” Wilson said. “Some of the other ones, it can be more difficult. There’s not that hard and fast limit like there is with alcohol.”
So, Wilson says, it’s left to the officer’s discretion on scene. There’s no breathalyzer for THC – if a driver is arrested, a blood test will later be used to charge the suspect.
Not all impairment is equal, however; that’s why more officers are undergoing additional training like Wilson has.
“Knowing what I know now, I look back on my career when I was young … I can look back to a handful of people who I know now, they were impaired and I missed it.”
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