Authorities worry about drugged driving after new pot law takes effect

Maryland needs more trained police officers to combat problem, prosecutors say Maryland prosecutors are concerned that the new law eliminating criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana will result in an increase in “drugged driving” that police are ill-equipped to handle. “It is inevitable that there will be an increase in drugged driving in Maryland,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. “We’d better be ready.” Maryland’s decriminalization law, which makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation, takes effect Oct. 1. Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger and other prosecutors wanted state legislators to delay passing the law until such consequences could be better studied in Colorado and Washington, where voters legalized marijuana use in 2012. Colorado authorities are more aggressively addressing drugged driving, and Maryland officials should take notice, McCarthy and Shellenberger said. Colorado Department of Transportation officials launched a public education campaign in March called “Drive High, Get a DUI” featuring comical commercials about people who are high on marijuana and have no business driving. “We have seen an increase in drugged driving,” said John Jackson, first vice president of the Colorado Chiefs of Police Association. The evidence has been largely anecdotal, but his organization is receiving funds from state taxes on marijuana sales to train more officers as drug recognition experts. “We want

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Assessing a DUI suspect starts with the eyes, progresses to the breath

April 26, 2014 11:00 PM Comments 0 Glenn Osmundson/The Providence Journal DUI suspect George F. Daniels Jr., 47, of Providence, takes a preliminary breath test after being stopped by Providence police on suspicion on DUI on April 11. 1 of 2   After pulling over a motorist, a police officer questions the suspect and then administers a Standardized Field Sobriety Test. It is an assessment of a suspect’s mental and motor skills that consists of three familiar exercises: the tongue-twisting horizontal gaze nystagmus (inability to track), in which the suspect’s eye movements are checked by waving a finger or pen back and forth and up and down; the heel-to-toe walk and turn; and the one-leg stand. Clues are taken from each of the exercises to conclude whether there is sufficient evidence of impairment to establish the probable cause necessary to continue to detain and evaluate the individual, explained Richard T. Sullivan, a former Providence police chief who, as state law enforcement highway safety training coordinator, teaches officers at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy. With the one-leg stand, for example, if the suspect is swaying and hopping, failing to keep the leg up and holding his arms out for balance, he fails that element of the test. The field sobriety test is applicable whether someone is suffering impairment from

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Cracking down on impaired drivers

Troopers train to conduct field sobriety tests, even catching those under .08             DUI Training OFFICE AT THE NUMBER YOU SEE ON THE SCREEN, 264-6512. A FLORIDA HOUSE PASSED A BILL TO ALLOW TRAINED OFFICIALS TO CARRY GUNS IN SCHOOL. IT MAY NOT BECOME LAW THIS YEAR. THE HOUSE VOTE WAS 71-44 FOLLOWING AN EMOTIONAL DEBATE. THE BILL WOULD ALLOW SCHOOL BOARD TO DEVELOP A POLICY TO ALLOW RETIRED POLICE OR FORMER MILITARY PERSONNEL TO CARRY CONCEALED WEAPONS AT SCHOOLS. OPPONENTS SAY THE PRESENCE OF MORE GUNS AT SCHOOL INCREASES THE CHANCES FOR ANOTHER VIOLENT INCIDENT BUT THE BILL’S SPONSOR SAYS HAVING ARMED OFFICIALS IS CRITICAL WHEN SECONDS COUNT. UNFORTUNATELY THE INCIDENTS HAPPEN SO QUICKLY, IF SOMEBODY IS NOT PROPERLY TRAINED AND ARMED ON CAMPUSES TO RESPOND TO AN ACTIVE SHOOTER, THEY’RE GOING TO BE AT THE MERCY OF THE ACTIVE SHOOTER UNTIL LAW ENFORCEMENT GETS THERE. ALTHOUGH THE HOUSE PASSED IT, THE BILL HAS NOT BEEN HEARD IN ANY SENATE COMMITTEE. WITH ONLY FOUR DAYS LEFT IN THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, IT’S UNLIKELY THE SENATE WILL TAKE UP THE BILL. THIS THURSDAY, CHANNEL 4 WILL EXAMINE GUNS HERE IN FLORIDA. IT’S AN ALL DAY SOCIAL TV EVENT WE’RE CALLING PROJECT 4, FIREARMS IN FLORIDA. WE’LL HAVE SPECIAL REPORTS EVERY HOUR DURING OUR NEWS, COVERING ALL THE ANGLES, INCLUDING WHAT IT TAKES

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MADD At Odds Over DUI Proposal

April 21, 2014 Mothers Against Drunk Driving is objecting to an abstinence-based proposal that would let judges order twice-daily breath tests instead of ignition interlock devices for repeat DUI offenders. But the head of the National Sheriffs’ Association says the “24/7 Sobriety” model is a better way of keeping drunken drivers off the road for good. MADD National Director Jan Withers on Friday asked Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, to reject the plan, which was approved by a House committee last week and is known elsewhere as “24/7 Sobriety.” “MADD believes that amendments allowing for twice a day testing or 24/7 sobriety programs are okay, but these programs should never replace the use of ignition interlock for a convicted drunk driver,” Withers wrote. Instead, MADD wants Florida lawmakers to expand the use of the interlock devices, which keep vehicles from starting if a driver is drunk, to first-time offenders whose blood-alcohol content is above .08. Current state law requires the devices for second- and third-time offenders as well as for those with a blood-alcohol content of .15 or greater. In a letter to Weatherford, Withers pointed out that 17,224 Florida residents were convicted in 2012 for driving with suspended licenses that were revoked because of previous DUIs, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

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Prince William police officer leads Northern Virginia in DUI arrests

Officer Jeremy Schenck started his law enforcement career on the wrong side of a police car. As a teenager in upstate New York, he was riding in a friend’s car when an officer pulled them over and found they had alcohol in the back seat. While the officer drove him home that night, Schenck worried a little about what his parents would say when they learned he had been about to drink underage. But he was more focused on how cool it was to be riding in a police car. He knew then that he wanted to be back in a police car — and next time, he would be in the driver’s seat. With more than 12 years on the Prince William County police force under his belt now, Schenck has abundant experience on the other side, as the one catching those who drink and drive. For five years running, he has been the champion of the county at arrests on charges of driving under the influence. Each year, Schenck has made more such arrests than any other officer in Prince William. In 2011 and 2012, he caught 255 and 234 drunk drivers, respectively, putting him ahead of police officers in all the jurisdictions in Northern Virginia. Crime statistics for last year have not been released. Mothers Against Drunk

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