Press Release - 06-14-2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, June 14, 2018
GTSC ANNOUNCES TRAINING WORKSHOP TO ASSIST IN DRUG-IMPAIRED DRIVING DETECTION
Builds on New York’s Leading Drug Recognition Expert Training Program
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) announced today that New York will host a 2-day workshop, bringing together traffic safety professionals, to better understand the benefits and limitations of oral fluid testing in drugged-driving cases. The workshop, being held June 14 to 15, will serve as a model for other states and support ongoing efforts to keep dangerous drivers off New York’s roadways, including New York’s leading Drug Recognition Expert training program to combat the growing trend of drug-impaired driving.
“New York State is committed to keeping our roads safe by making sure our law enforcement officers are up-to-date on the latest methods for recognizing all kinds of impairment,” said Terri Egan, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Acting GTSC Chair. “We want people battling addictions to get the help they need and to make sure they do not risk their own lives or the lives of others by driving under the influence.”
This two-day workshop will bring more than 160 traffic safety partners together including law enforcement, prosecutors, toxicologists and more to examine the potential for oral fluid testing in New York’s drugged driving investigations. Oral fluid testing is emerging as a viable option in the drug detection process. It is a simple screening test for law enforcement to perform, it is easily collected for confirmation lab testing, and it can detect very recent drug use that may not be captured by other testing methods.
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) partnered with the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) and the New York State Police Toxicology Laboratory to receive a $14,300 grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) to provide the training. New York was one of only five states awarded.
New York also conducts drug recognition expert training for state and local law enforcement. In March, GTSC announced 16 officers from across New York State had completed the extensive training and are now nationally-certified Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). There are currently more than 270 certified DRE’s in the State.
New York takes the problem of drugged driving very seriously, and we continue to work hard to train Drug Recognition Experts who recognize the signs of a driver under the influence,” Egan said. “As the drug epidemic spreads across New York State and the nation, these officers play an increasingly significant role in traffic safety. This grant money will further support our mission to eradicate this problem from our roads and keep all of New York’s drivers safe.”
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “The New York State Police are pleased to join the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and the Society of Forensic Toxicologists in this important training opportunity. Drug impaired driving is a serious problem and we are committed to providing the latest tools and training that will help keep our highways among the safest in the nation.”
A recent report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), finds that in 2016, 44 percent of fatally-injured drivers with known results tested positive for drugs, up from 28 percent just 10 years prior. The report also states that more than half of these drivers had marijuana, opioids, or a combination of the two in their system. The report also found that among drug-positive, fatally-injured drivers in 2016, 38 percent tested positive for some form of marijuana, 16 percent tested positive for opioids, and 4 percent tested positive for both marijuana and opioids.
To combat these alarming statistics, the report recommends increased training for law enforcement and better tools to assess drug impairment.
OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “Addiction is a disease impacting people from across the State regardless of age, gender and ethnicity. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York State is tackling the crisis through innovative solutions that will save the lives of many New Yorkers and give those struggling with addiction the opportunity to get connected to treatment and begin a path towards recovery.”
New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the State’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).
Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, community residence, or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov or through the NYS OASAS website.