As drunk driving has decreased throughout the country, the number of people driving under the influence of drugs has increased. When over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, illegal drugs or some combination of them are in a person's system, they can become a danger to themselves and others on the road.
Whether or not someone is driving "drugged" is not as easy for law enforcement officers to determine as whether they are under the influence of alcohol. There's currently no Breathalyzer-type test that can determine that.
Further, the signs of being under the influence of drugs are often different than those of being impaired by alcohol. Police and other law enforcement officers have to be trained to recognize those signs.
Now the prosecutor's office in Somerset County, New Jersey, has announced that eight of its officers have been specially trained to recognize the signs of "drugged" driving. These Drug Recognition Experts have been tasked with assisting in traffic stops in six municipalities throughout the county when an officer suspects that a driver is impaired by drugs.
Somerset County's acting prosecutor says that his office "welcome[s] the expertise of these DRE officers" because "relatively few [police officers] are schooled in recognizing when drivers are drug-impaired."
When a New Jersey resident is charged with driving under the influence of drugs, proving that charge is more difficult for prosecutors can be more difficult for prosecutors than proving a drunk driving charge. There aren't legal limits for the amount of particular drugs that a person can have in one's system while driving as there are with alcohol. Therefore, if you or a loved one are charged with driving under the influence of drugs, it's essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and show reasonable doubt.
Source: NJ.com, "Somerset County is cracking down on drugged driving," Dave Hutchinson, NJ Advance Media, March 10, 2016