Idaho State Police is teaming up with the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office to combat a growing DUI trend. They held a joint press conference at ISP’s District 5 office in Pocatello on Friday.
Lt. Mike Winans is going on his 22 years in law enforcement. During that time, he’s come across thousands of DUI crashes, most of them deadly. “I lost my sense of humor about this a long time ago when I had to clean up dead people,” Winans said.
Over the years, he says DUIs have increased and have become harder to detect.
“Within the last 10 to 15 years we’re seeing a lot more impaired drivers under the influence of something other than alcohol,” Winans said.
Illegal substances, as well as prescription drugs, are hard to detect. There is no way to test for them on the highways.
“So there’s a reason why your physician is prescribing you a medication. It has an effect on your body. If you’re behind the wheel and you’re in that condition, that’s not only dangerous to you but the rest of the motor public,” Winans said.
If you are pulled over and suspected of being under the influence, it will result in DUI charges. All officers are trained in advanced roadside impaired driving testing, which helps detect drivers under the influence. However, only a few are certified drug recognition experts (DRE), a certification that is growing in demand.
“In my opinion, it’s some of the hardest law enforcement training that an officer can go through. If we determine that someone is under the influence of something that
we can take them in for additional testing to determine what substance they are under the influence of,” Winans said.
Ashley Graham, deputy prosecutor for Bannock County, says she has seen more than 70 DUI cases this year.
“Today, what we really like to see happen is the public be more educated about the risk that’s out there and engage in safer driving behavior. I don’t know why there’s an uptick, but we do know we need to do something to address it,” Graham said.
Harsher legal consequences for DUIs could be coming down the road.
“Longer periods of probation, longer incarceration time, more treatment, things of that nature, higher finds to really get people’s attention,” Graham said.