FREDERICKTOWN — The Fredericktown Police Department held its Neighborhood Watch Meeting on Saturday morning and the topic was impaired driving enforcement.
Lt. Kyle Johnson and Ptl. Josh Jones spoke and showed slides and a video presentation to a crowd of village residents at the Fredericktown Schools Administration building and they explained details of impaired driving.
Both Johnson and Jones have training in how to detect impairment but Jones has advanced training and is certified as a Drug Recognition Expert.
In his extensive training, Jones has studied the effects of various drugs — including alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, meth and methadone, among others — on drivers and what would prompt his participation in an incident if there was an stopped impaired driver.
“Essentially, when I get involved, another officer would make an OVI arrest. He knows that the person is impaired but whatever it is, its screaming ‘not alcohol,’” Jones said. “So that person’s impaired by something other than alcohol. (The officer) makes an arrest based on the impairment and then he’ll call either me or one of the other individuals in the state who are certified to do that.”
According to both Jones and Johnson, there are only about 300 certified Drug Recognition Experts in the state and each of them has a standardized procedure to follow in determining impairment.
“We’ll (one of the DRE’s) come in and do a 12-step evaluation,” Jones explained. “Then we’ll do a couple different things. We either do a medical rule-out, like, this person is experiencing a medical condition – whether its diabetes or some other medical condition and they need to be transported to the hospital. We also do an alcohol rule-out or we pick one of seven categories of drugs.”
Johnson then talked about the statistics of impaired drivers in the state.
He said that between 2003 and 2015 there are 4,658 crash fatalities in Ohio that involved impaired drivers and between 2013 and 2015, there was a 14.8 percent increase in them. Johnson said several times during the presentation that 10 years ago, most of the impaired drivers he saw were from alcohol and now a significant number are impaired by different kinds of drugs, which is why Jones and others have been specially trained to help identify which impairment.
Several members of the audience were invited to the front and put on glasses that simulated various drugs and different levels of impairment, depending on the drug. Several of the volunteer participants almost fell over trying to maneuver with the glasses on.