Study: Impaired driving on the rise

Posted at: 02/07/2014 5:33 PM
Updated at: 02/07/2014 5:37 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

Drinking and driving is still a scary reality in our area and so is drugged driving. Local experts say more people are getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs.

Just last week, an elderly man was killed in Webster by a woman Webster Police say was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The latest study for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles shows the number of drivers who were ticketed for being under the influence of drugs were 4,000 in 2011. That’s an increase of about 20 percent between 2007 to 2011. The number of drivers ticketed for alcohol impaired driving offenses declined by 15 percent during those years.

Another increase in drugged driving was with women. They were up 24 percent and most of the offenses were committed by drivers between the age of 21 and 29.

News10NBC wanted to know what the situation is right now. Have the number changed?

Margaret Corbin, Driver Awareness Training Director, said, “In the past, you would see maybe once every 50 people or so you would get someone that was arrested for drugged driving.  But now we see several people in each class and not only people that are using street drugs, we are seeing people under the influence of prescription drugs.”

In his State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo proposed a new law that would give repeat offenders a three strikes maximum when it comes to impaired drivers.  But because of what she witnesses first hand, Corbin believes it should not be three strikes. She says offenders who have put lives at risk should be severely punished after one offense.

News10NBC brought her concerns to Assemblyman Joe Morelle, a supporter of the proposal.

Assemblyman Joe Morelle said, “I think you could argue that sometimes people make mistakes hopefully that won't result in tragedy but I think this is a balance. I think it balances the needs of society to be protected and to not have the penalty so harsh that it becomes in a sense too difficult for us to put on to people so I think this does strike a reasonable balance.”

Margaret Corbin says the state can decrease all of these numbers through education. She says keeping driver safety courses in schools are critical for New York State-moving forward.