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Drugged driving remains serious threat on New Year's Eve

Posted at 3:25 PM, Dec 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-31 18:29:28-05

Drunk drivers are big threats on our roads, especially on New Year's Eve. But in recent years, local law enforcement agencies are dealing with more drugged drivers than ever.

"We’re talking cocaine. We’re talking fentanyl. We’re talking heroin. We’re talking opioids," Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt said.

In 2014, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office made 57 drugged driving arrests. In 2018, that number nearly doubled to 108.

This New Year’s Eve, deputies are preparing by carrying Narcan with them.

According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, hundreds of law enforcement personnel across the state are trained to be drug-recognition experts, meaning they can detect drivers high on drugs.

"Drugged driving compared to drunk driving, the biggest difference is when you first have contact with that person, because you don’t have that smell of alcohol," Trooper Vince Caruso said.

Caruso says other physical clues such as how a driver's eyes look are other indicators the driver might be high on drugs.

"More officers are trained to recognize it whereas before we may have stopped somebody that was impaired by drugs versus alcohol and we may not have recognized the signs the way we do now," Caruso said.

Schmidt said there will be a strong police presence on New Year’s Eve.

"We will be out there. We will try to save lives, but again that is the backup plan. The original plan is don’t take these drugs in the first place," Schmidt said.