Drugged driving training programs expected to become more significant due to marijuana legalization
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Law enforcement agencies across New Mexico have been taking classes on how to spot drugged drivers for years, however now those lessons have much more significance with the legalization of recreational marijuana on the horizon.
There are usually obvious signs that are displayed by drunk drivers, but spotted drivers under the influence of something else is not so simple.
“So you know there something there, but you don’t know if it’s alcohol or if it’s drugs or a medical condition. This will help us pick apart exactly what it is,” said Anthony Jaramillo, a DWI officer in the town of Bernalillo.
Jaramillo is one of a select number of officers, hand-picked from around the state. This week is the beginning of a two-week journey to becoming a certified drug recognition expert.
“When you’re talking about drug impairment, there is such a huge level of complexity that comes into play at that point, right? Drug impairment is so much more complex than alcohol,” said Lt. Charles Files, state coordinator for the New Mexico Drug Recognition Program.
The Drug Recognition Program is a national program that has been active since the 90s.
“When a DRE does the evaluation, I will receive the toxicology report,” Lt. Files said. “I have to enter it in a national database. The top ones I’m seeing is cannabis, number one. Number two is depressants, that’s typically like Xanax. We see that a lot In the metro area, and then I also see methamphetamine.”
With the legalization of pot just around the corner, Lt. Files said the program doesn’t need a lot of changing. He said they offer a less intensive two-day class that any officer can sign up for, and he thinks there will be more interest in it thanks to the new recreational marijuana law.
“It’s important to note that this program is not a reaction to the legislation that just passed. The legislation that just passed emphasizes the importance of this program,” he said.
For more information about the program, click here.