Prescription-Related DUIs On The Rise

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As the nation sees an increase in prescription drug abuse, area police departments are seeing more and more cases of people driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Donald Derr has been Savannah’s police chief for the past 11 years, and in the last two years, has seen ‘quite an increase’ in drugged driving. “Just from reviewing reports and seeing the officers’ cases, it’s looking like right now driving impaired with drugs, as opposed to alcohol, is quite a bit higher,” Chief Derr said. Derr estimates 75 percent of their DUI arrests are drug-related, and only 25 percent are alcohol-related. He said they have had 69 DUI arrests through September 1, averaging 10 to 14 arrests a month. According to Derr, about half of the police department’s seized cars are from DUI arrests or from licenses being revoked. “I think a lot of them, when they take a medication, they feel all right and they think they can operate it, and in fact they can’t,” Derr said. “Then once again there’s a lot of abuse where they’re taking too much to begin with and they shouldn’t be behind the wheel.” Investigators said one recent case involved a woman, who admitted to driving after taking Xanax and Neurontin. She crashed her car with her 10-month-old-son with her. “We had another case where a lady not only hit two cars in a parking lot, but the store’s building,” Derr said. Chief Derr advised drivers should talk with their doctors about the side effects of their medication, and to make sure it is safe to get behind the wheel. Police said several of their DUI arrests were from repeat offenders. Derr said your car will be seized If you have a second DUI offense.

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