MEDFORD, Ore. — Oregon lawmakers are looking into a bill that would expand what falls under a DUII. Currently the statute only covers alcohol controlled substances and inhalants. This bill is looking into any drug that impairs a drivers mental or physical ability to drive, meaning if someone’s on a prescription or synthetic drug it would fall in the category of a DUII.
Currently a driver impaired on a prescription drug would be cited for reckless driving. Medford Police say if passed this bill presents several obstacles for them. Police say with alcohol controlled substances or inhalants it’s easily testable with a breathalyzer or urine, but synthetic drugs like bath salts is more difficult to test. The drug is harder to detect in a persons system. Officers say they would have to rely on other methods to prove the person is impaired.
“But if there’s evidence of bath salts even if it’s not in the urine, say, perhaps by statements made, maybe we found bath salts at the scene or what not, that could all contribute to trying to prove that it is bath salts,” explained Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau.
The Medford Police Department has four officers who are considered Drug Recognition Experts, or DRE’s. These officers have gone through special training to detect if someone is on drugs. Medford Police do not think DUII’s will increase even if this bill passes. They also want to emphasize that just because someone is on a prescription drug does not mean it will automatically be a DUII; the person will have to show they are impaired.