COLUMBUS (WCMH) – New numbers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol show 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 6 percent increase from the same time period last year.
Those are startling numbers and Burkhart said they do not include drivers arrested by city and county law enforcers around the state.
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 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 miles per hour into her passenger side,” Gasper said.
Gasper said her daughter’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.”
A Drugged Driving Summit — the first of its kind in central Ohio — 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.
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.”
As the number of drugged drivers increase, experts say the number of Drug Recognition Experts trained to take those drivers off Ohio’s roadways increases as well.