Drug Recognition Experts climbing in Northeast Ohio to combat drugged driving

Northeast Ohio officers now combating increased drugged driving

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Law enforcement has worked for years to get a handle on drunken driving, and now it appears they have work to do to get control of a growing problem: people driving while on drugs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports while the number of fatal accidents has dropped in the last 20 years, the number of fatal accidents involving people who had tested positive for drug use has increased.

We've seen the tragic truth of those numbers here recently.

A Mentor police officer was killed on the job, by a man allegedly on drugs while driving. He's accused of hitting the officer and driving away.

Then over the weekend, a 19-year-old man admitted to police he used heroin shortly before reportedly striking and killing a 21-year-old on East 9th Street downtown.

Ohio law enforcement has noticed the trend and now hundreds of officers across the state, after undergoing weeks of training, are recognized as Drug Recognition Experts.

That includes Sgt. David Francway of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, "We're not going to smell alcohol because alcohol is not present but were going to see the impairment that comes from all the different drugs."

Sgt. Francway admits Ohio is behind the curve in this training, the state was the second to last in the country to offer D.R.E. training.

There is some catching up to do but that process is underway and critical, "Most people know what a drunk looks like at a bar but not everyone knows what somebody looks like that's high on a stimulant," Francway says.

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