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WV Sees Spike In Drugged Driving

Reported by: Send eMail Kera Mashek
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Kera Mashek
Reported: Nov. 20, 2013 5:13 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 20, 2013 5:42 PM EST

EYEWITNESS NEWS ONLINE WEBCAST VIDEO

Drugged Driving
Eyewitness News Photo

Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

West Virginia State Police are seeing more people getting behind the wheel under the influence of drugs, now accounting for about 10 percent of all DUI arrests.

Weege Vargo spends a lot of time driving for her job. So learning more drivers she shares the road with are under the influence of drugs is a concern.

"I'm here on business and just came from Beckley into Charleston, which is a very interesting road to navigate. I would think individuals if they're impaired, would make it very dangerous for individuals who are not," Vargo said.

"I think it's really scary," Sgt. Mike Baylous, with the West Virginia State Police, said.

Baylous said it's not hard to spot drugged drivers.

"The things that we're going to see are exactly the same for someone who's been drinking alcohol, where they'll either be driving too slow or too fast or will be out of their lane or driving recklessly. Those indicators are still going to be there," he said.

The good news is that laws are changing to adapt to a growing number of drivers on drugs, with blood samples now being taken from suspects to make drug DUI cases easier to prove in court.

While police admit it's nearly impossible to catch very impaired driver, they and many drivers are keeping a close eye out for any suspicious activity behind the wheel.

"Well, I notice there's a lot of them (police) on the turnpike so it looks like they've stepped it up a little bit," Vargo said. "I just think if everybody would just take a leadership role themselves and picking up the phone and calling the police if they see someone driving erratic. They could do something then to help others."

Currently under West Virginia law, drivers busted for drug DUI are punished the same way as drunk drivers. Some legislators, though, have been calling for stiffer penalties for drug offenses.



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