PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Police are trained to spot drunk drivers, but with drugged drivers they don’t always know the signs.
“And in the lack of knowing what to do, you don’t do anything,” said Cpl. Victor Stemby, a Pennsylvania State Police drug recognition expert.
So, a potentially dangerous driver is just allowed to go on their way.
Enter Team DUI and today’s training for police officers throughout the area.
The need is in the numbers.
“Last year, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we had 50,000 DUI arrests, give or take, almost 15,000 or 30 percent of the total were drug driving and that’s growing exponentially every year,” said George Geisler Jr., a Team DUI drug recognition expert.
The officers received a new level of field sobriety training.
Geisler agreed to show KDKA’s John Shumway how they spot a drug issue.
“Follow the tip of my finger with your eyes, and eyes only, don’t move your head. Do you understand?” said Geisler. “What I’m looking for is the ability for the person’s eyes to cross. Depressants, inhalants and cannabis will cause your eyes not to cross. Marijuana.
“See how pink my eyelids are. If someone is on certain drugs, that part of the eye, which is called the conjunctiva will be bright red,” Geisler added.
They also conduct a 30-second stability test.
“So, right there, tells me if I was doing a real investigation that’s something’s up,” said Geisler. “You can’t follow instructions; you called 30 seconds in 20 seconds. I was looking for eye lid tremors, leg tremors, swaying.”
The drug recognition experts say DUI drug cases are often cases of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs, and sometimes there’s no alcohol involved at all.
“You may have a prescription for it, but if your prescription is high enough that it impairs you, you may not drive,” Cpl. Stemby said.
“If you are impaired, you are impaired, and you are going to be arrested and convicted,” Geisler added.
The officers in today’s class will be out on the roads with their departments tomorrow ready to help spot DUI drug drivers, and its important that they are because Halloween has now become one of the worst days for DUI incidents in the entire year.