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Number of DUIs involving drugs increasing

By Megan Gorey
Published On: Feb 22 2013 05:05:54 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 22 2013 08:39:51 PM CST

The danger of drinking and driving are known, but there is an alarming trend on the rise on our streets.

The danger of drinking and driving are known, but there is an alarming trend on the rise on our streets. Police said they’re seeing an alarming increase in the number of DUI arrests that involve narcotics.

Nineteen years ago, Lilly Padgett was killed in a car crash, a week before her son was set to be married. Her daughter-in-law, Kem Padgett, said it was a hit and run involving a driver under the influence. "Witnesses at the crash said the car stopped and the person got out of the car,” she said. “He staggered around and it was obvious they were impaired somehow."

Police in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee are worried about a jump in the number of impaired drivers who are high instead of drunk. "It looks like 50-55% of drivers are under the influence of more prescription type drugs or meth over alcohol,” said Jerald Hughes with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.

In January 2013, 11 out of 14 DUI arrests in Hawkins County involved pills, nearly 80%. "Some are prescribed the pills, but they abuse the prescription,” said Chief Deputy Tony Allen with the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department.

Scarier yet, Drug Recognition Expert Dale Farmer with the Kingsport Police Department said most drug-related DUI arrests occur during the daytime, alcohol-related DUI arrests occur at night. “We're seeing more and more of the drug induced driving offenses. It's not so much of the illegal drugs as it is the prescription drugs,” said Farmer.

According to Wise County, Virginia Sheriff Oaks, they had 105 DUI in 2012. He said 90% of them involved drugs.