High Road: Law Enforcement Prepare For Increased Drugged Driving - Palm Springs News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News

High Road: Law Enforcement Prepare For Increased Drugged Driving

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Palm Desert, CA -

The legalization of recreational marijuana in California means more people will have access to something that can impair their driving skills, and law enforcement is getting ready to deal with the dangers of the high road. 

Recovering drug addict Lisa Neider wants to warn others about the dangers of getting behind the wheel, while high on any drugs. 

"In reality I should've went to jail. I couldn't killed someone and that's when I knew I really need some help," Neider said reflecting on the numerous times she drove while high on drugs.

"I probably should have had at least a dozen DUIs," she admitted. "I always fell asleep, and nodded out, so I would slap my face," she said.

Neider said she spent most of her life fighting her addiction. She turned to drugs when life got hard. 

"I did what I knew how to do and I went back to drugs because it self-medicated," she explained. "I think I was doing over an eight ball, maybe close to a quarter ounce of meth a day."

Another recovering drug addict, Bill Bruner has been clean and sober for 27 years, but before that his life was a hazy nightmare. 

"I was always on on some amphetamine," said Bruner. He said there were several times he drove while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, but because of the drugs in his system he was able to pass the field sobriety tests.

Bruner admits he could have killed someone.

"I could've cared less how fast I was going, I couldn't cared less if I followed the law, I did what I wanted," he said.

There were many times Neider would fall asleep at the wheel because of the drugs in her system.

"This time I was leaving Morongo and going up the hill, I got to the top, and I went, 'I didn't fall asleep, I didn't nod out, and before I knew it I woke up, and I was so many blocks down the road, sitting there facing traffic on the other lane."

Now with the legalization of recreational marijuana, drugged driving is a growing problem.

"Earlier we had a DUI fatal collision, where the driver was impaired under the influence of drugs, marijuana, and he had a prior DUI conviction. Unfortunately, his passenger was killed as a result of that collision," said Sergeant Mike Villegas with the Palm Springs Police Department. 

Sergeant Villegas said it is not uncommon to pull drivers over and they're high on drugs.

"Sometimes it's a combination, sometimes it's alcohol, and marijuana and prescription pills, so we do see quite a bit of that," said Villegas.

The California Highway Patrol realizes the the new law is going to mean new enforcement techniques.

"Every single officer that works in the state is required to complete some additional training for DUI specifically drug related driving under the influence," said Officer Mike Radford with the Indio California Highway Patrol.

Radford said officers can tell when someone is high on prescription drugs. But marijuana is a little harder to detect. 

"If we stop them and maybe they smoked six hours before, and they're probably not feeling the affects anymore, we're not going to be able to just arrest them because we know that their blood is going to come back with THC in it," Radford added.

So field sobriety tests are not always as effective for pot. If someone high on legal weed passes, they could potentially be on their way.

But even if you do pass, driving impaired risks much more than just your life.

"If they get in an accident, their family has to pay for that. It's not only the cost, the fees of having to go to court, and the time you have to serve, but it's also if you hurt someone else, how do you live with that?" said Detective Lauren DrinkWater with the Palm Springs Police Department.

Officer Radford said they can tell when someone is high.

"People may think that they feel okay, or that they aren't going to show any signs because they're under the influence of marijuana, but that's not true," he said.

After destroying over six cars, but luckily no lives, Lisa Neider knows the risk.

"If you're under the influence of any pill, pot, cocaine, meth, anything, you're going to be responsible. And you're going to be the one facing the vehicle mansalughter and it's just not worth it," said Neider.

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