Legislation enforcement officers within the Gila Valley are already seeing an influence from voters’ resolution to legalize leisure marijuana — drug-related DUI arrests seem like on the rise.
Based on statistics obtained by the Japanese Arizona Courier underneath Arizona’s open information legal guidelines, drug-related driving underneath the affect arrests in unincorporated Graham County rose from 4 to seven in the course of the first six months of the 12 months and from two to eight in Thatcher throughout the identical time interval.
Safford has skilled a pointy improve in DUI arrests general, leaping from 48 to 72, however take a look at outcomes are pending in most of the instances, mentioned Safford Police Chief Glen Orr. To date, seven of the checks have proven the presence of medicine, in comparison with 17 final 12 months.
DUI arrests are down in Pima, which Pima Police Chief Diane Cauthen attributed to the closure of Cluff Ponds, a preferred occasion space. Between Jan. 1 and June 30, there have been 17 DUI arrests, seven of which have been drug-related. In 2021 there have been six arrests, two drug-related.
Graham County Sheriff PJ Allred has at all times predicted a rise.
“I don’t know the way they aren’t going to extend. Are folks going to say, ‘We voted marijuana to be authorized and now I received’t drive?’ They’re going to drive. Now that it’s authorized, they’ll use it and it’s going to be on the highway. How can it not be on the rise?” he mentioned.
Allred mentioned extra of his deputies will likely be specifically educated to determine drivers underneath the affect of medicine.
“We attempt our greatest to guard our residents in Graham County,” he mentioned. “However they hold passing issues that make it harder for us to look after our residents.”
Thatcher Police Chief Shaffen Woods mentioned the variety of arrests will not be actually indicative of the variety of folks driving underneath the affect. Not solely have they got different duties in addition to site visitors enforcement, however when officers do make a DUI arrest, it takes them off the road for hours.
“Irrespective of how environment friendly we attempt to be if an officer stops a DUI, it can take them no less than an hour or two to finish the investigation and course of the DUI and that isn’t counting courtroom time. So in small companies, for each DUI that takes a cop (generally) the one cop on obligation off the highway for an hour or two,” he mentioned. “That is the rationale we work with GOHS and attempt to get grants for additional time to get extra officers on the highway to focus on DUI’s and nonetheless present primary police service to our communities.”
Woods additionally identified that DUI numbers usually fluctuate based mostly on different circumstances. As an illustration, officers restricted their contact with drivers final 12 months due to the pandemic.
“So far as the legalization of marijuana and the DUI numbers go, I’m certain they are going to go up. Some folks suppose that because it’s authorized, then they will drive after utilizing it,” he mentioned. “It has by no means been unusual for impaired drivers to combine medication and alcohol or poly use medication (multiple) whereas driving.”
Safford Police Chief Glen Orr attributed Safford’s elevated stats, no less than partially, to a brand new officer who focuses on impaired drivers. As for the legalization of leisure marijuana, officers have a better burden once they suspect somebody is driving underneath the affect.
“The marijuana odor is not possible trigger. It’s modified the best way we function,” he mentioned.
Cauthen agreed with Woods in saying it’s under no circumstances uncommon to arrest somebody for DUI who has been consuming and utilizing a number of medication, together with marijuana. Had Cluffs Pond not been closed, she suspects her DUI numbers would have been larger.
“Marijuana and alcohol type of go hand in hand,” she mentioned.