Drug-Impaired Drivers Growing Epidemic on SWLA Roadways - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Drug-Impaired Drivers Growing Epidemic on SWLA Roadways

March 28, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck

"When I started here in 1998, most of our drunks were drunk -- it was alcohol," said State Police Trooper Sal Messina. "It was rare to catch a DWI during the day shift." 

Trooper Messina says in the past couple of years those statistics have drastically changed, partly due to a growing epidemic of drug impaired drivers.

"Most of our arrests for drug impairment are made during the day... they're not made at night," said Trooper Wayne Thompson. "They're showing all the signs of impairment or even more signs of impairment than you would see on an alcohol impaired driver."

Trooper Thompson is a Drug Recognition Expert with State Police Troop D. He's called in when impaired drivers register 0.000 on the alcohol breathalyzer -- usually pointing to drug abuse. This year Troop D has made 32 drug impaired arrests in Calcasieu alone. Most of those arrested admit to taking prescribed pain pills.

"90% or more drug recognition evaluations, at the conclusion of the interview evaluation -- the subject states they go to Texas to a pain management clinic, where they don't accept insurance, they only accept cash," explained Thompson. "Their monthly prescription are 120 somas, 120 hydrocodones or Lorcet and 90 Xanex per month. That is more than enough to keep the largest of people impaired for a month." 

But most can't wait until they get home, instead taking the drugs immediately before getting on the roadway. By the time they hit the Louisiana state line they are extremely impaired. "We find them with prescriptions. There's 10 to 15 to 20 pills missing from the bottles already and they were filled on that same day," said Thompson. "We see crashes, fatalities, in most cases we don't have to look for them... They find us. They are called into 911 by other motorists."

Troopers Messina and Thompson both say even more alarming is that most of the cases they've seen are far more impaired than alcohol related cases. And unlike alcohol, they say the onset of drug impairment takes effect much quicker.

"It doesn't matter if you've never drank a drop in your life. If you are on medication and you are impaired, you will go to jail and we will charge you with DWI," said Messina.  

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Welsh police chief will get another shot at raise

    Welsh police chief will get another shot at raise

    Friday, July 21 2017 4:42 PM EDT2017-07-21 20:42:08 GMT

    A few weeks ago, the Welsh town council voted on the $15,000 dollar raise for Police Chief Marcus Crochet, but deadlocked, meaning no pay increase. The council will hold a public meeting August 1 to again discuss raising the police chief's salary from $40,000 a year to $55,000 a year. 

    More >>

    A few weeks ago, the Welsh town council voted on the $15,000 dollar raise for Police Chief Marcus Crochet, but deadlocked, meaning no pay increase. The council will hold a public meeting August 1 to again discuss raising the police chief's salary from $40,000 a year to $55,000 a year. 

    More >>
  • Donations needed for DeQuincy veterans memorial

    Donations needed for DeQuincy veterans memorial

    Friday, July 21 2017 4:30 PM EDT2017-07-21 20:30:58 GMT
    DeQuincy Railroad Museum (Source: Facebook)DeQuincy Railroad Museum (Source: Facebook)

    A new veterans memorial is in the works for the town of DeQuincy.

    It will be a replication of "Raising the Flag" in Japan during World War II, and will honor area veterans like the Clifton brothers, who returned to their hometown of DeQuincy after serving in the war.

    More >>

    A new veterans memorial is in the works for the town of DeQuincy.

    It will be a replication of "Raising the Flag" in Japan during World War II, and will honor area veterans like the Clifton brothers, who returned to their hometown of DeQuincy after serving in the war.

    More >>
  • FIRST ALERT FORECAST: More warm temperatures this weekend with a better chance for afternoon showers

    FIRST ALERT FORECAST: More warm temperatures this weekend with a better chance for afternoon showers

    Friday, July 21 2017 3:56 PM EDT2017-07-21 19:56:21 GMT
    Scattered showers return this weekendScattered showers return this weekend

    By sunset this evening the temperatures will start to go down. Heat indices will still be high through tonight, possibly not dropping below 80 degrees. Overnight we will be left with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. Rain chances are down to zero overnight. At the start of the weekend, more scattered storms in the afternoon are expected on Saturday. An upper level high to our north that has limited rain chances, will be moving away and a weak disturbance i...

    More >>

    By sunset this evening the temperatures will start to go down. Heat indices will still be high through tonight, possibly not dropping below 80 degrees. Overnight we will be left with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. Rain chances are down to zero overnight. At the start of the weekend, more scattered storms in the afternoon are expected on Saturday. An upper level high to our north that has limited rain chances, will be moving away and a weak disturbance i...

    More >>
Powered by Frankly