Uptick in drugged driving
AMHERST â Drunk-driving charges were up in Amherst for the first part of the summer, but the police departmentâs crime prevention officer isnât drawing conclusions.
âI donât know if we can,â said Const. Tom Wood of the Amherst Police Department.
The numbers are low â low for this year and low for last year. Wood provided statistics for the period stretching May 24 to July 8 this year and in 2012. This year, five impaired driving complaints led to charges, compared to just two in 2012, although unverified complaints were similar: eight in 2012, nine in 2013.
âItâs still out there,â he said of driving under the influence of an intoxicant.
Attitudes have shifted, said Wood, but itâs still a problem.
And itâs a problem he thinks has plateaued. The number of incidences has dropped over the years but doesnât seem to be dropping more. He said theyâre also seeing an increase in charges related to prescription drug abuse (but said it could just be theyâve gotten better at detecting the problem).
A prescription doesnât give someone a license to drive impaired.
âIt would be the same,â he said.
Quite a few of the departmentâs officers have been trained to detect drivers under the influence of drugs, prescription or illicit.
âItâs quite a process,â said Wood.
An initial battery of tests on-scene can lead to an officer taking the person in to face more extensive testing.
The constable implied it would be a mistake to typecast the people they pull over for DUIs. They could be hardcore alcoholics or not, young or old, and calls come in at all times of the day.
Wood said thereâs an even split between police discovering suspected impaired drivers and warnings phoned in by the public.