COLUMBUS (WCMH) — New numbers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol shows troopers arrested nearly 14,850 impaired drivers just in the first half of this year.
Sgt. Adam Burkhart, a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) said 3,000 were arrested for drugged driving. That’s a six percent increase of the same time period last year.
Those by themselves are startling numbers, and Burkhart said they do not include drivers arrested by city and county law enforcers around Ohio.
According to Matt Bruning, Press Secretary for the Ohio Department of Transportation, last year there were 4,165 crashes on Ohio highways caused by drugged drivers. That was a 21 percent increase since 2013.
State officials said about one third of the drugged drivers arrested last year were for driving high on marijuana, and the numbers of all drugged drivers continue to climb.
Corinne Gasper’s 22-year-old daughter Jennifer Hrobuchaka was killed by a drugged driver in July 2012.
“She was driving into work when she was hit by a man high on marijuana, racing through an intersection at 82 mph into her passenger side,” Gasper said.
Gasper said her daughter Jennifer’s death is more than just a statistic. She wants people to see her personality and know her name.
“It was a senseless act taking the life of a beautiful, talented young woman,” Gasper said. “I do believe education is the key and it has to start as early as possible.”
This Drugged Driving Summit is the first of its kind in Central Ohio. It is sponsored by AAA Ohio as a one-stop-shop for police, courts, educators and medical professionals.
“What is really behind the summit is because we have a growing drugged driving crisis on our hands,” said AAA Ohio Spokesperson Kimberly Schwind.
“In 2016 our traffic unit at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office investigated 31 fatal crashes, almost half of those involved drugged drivers,” said Franklin Co Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jim Gilbert.
Gasper said there are some drivers where education about intoxicated driving does not work.
“These people who have been caught driving while intoxicated and doing it again and again and again and that is the sad thing about it,” Gasper said.
As the number of drugged drivers increase, experts said so does the number of Drug Recognition Experts trained to take those drivers off Ohio’s roadways.