Friday, August 12, 2016

Knox County experiencing increasing drug-impaired driving incidents

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is concerned with the recent increase in drug-impaired driving incidents in Knox County.

The Sheriff’s Office released information about safety checkpoints throughout Knox County only a week ago and the Office’s Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) have conducted nearly as many drug evaluations. Since August 1, 2016, Sergeant Patrick Polky and Deputy John Hansen, the Office’s DREs, have been called upon in five different impaired driving incidents.

Sheriff’s Office incidents for the month of August showed five Operating Under the Influence (OUI) arrests. Two of these arrests were drug-impaired drivers and two of these were vehicle crashes. DRE skills were called upon three additional times by other agencies in the county this month. For the same period countywide, there were 10 additional OUI arrests.

The Sheriff’s Office is not the only agency with DREs. The Rockland Police Department also employs two DREs. Countywide incidents for 2016 show 151 OUIs and 12 DREs. Sgt. Polky states that the DRE call volume is most likely higher. “On occasion a local DRE is unavailable so dispatch will reach out to neighboring counties to find an available DRE.”

The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind drivers that in Maine, a person commits an OUI if they drive while under the influence of intoxicants or when their blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher. Maine Revised Statue Title 29-A, 2401(13), states “ ‘under the influence of intoxicants’ means being under the influence of alcohol, a drug other than alcohol, a combination of drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.”

Sgt. Polky said that a specific reason for the increase in DRE calls cannot be determined at this time but feels that an increase in illicit drug activity in the region is a contributing factor. “We want everyone to be sure they are not impaired before they get behind the wheel so that we all arrive home safely to our friends and families.”

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