Vermont Police Confront Upturn in Drugged Driving

Drugged Driving

Police Now Assume That There’s Been Overdose

Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple is becoming used to finding people overdosed all over town.

Whipple says overdoses are not uncommon in public bathrooms, parking lots or private homes– or on the roads after two incidents this fall where drivers overdosed behind the wheel.

“When we get sent to a call of someone down on the ground, someone unconscious, I think it’s the first thing that comes to mind. Do we have another overdose?” the chief said.

Driving and overdosing is particularly worrisome because so many more lives are put at risk if the vehicles shoots out of control.

But – it has been difficult to put offenders behind bars for driving while high on opioids. Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George says her office has already charged 62 suspected drugged drivers this year. But she says they face challenges when those cases go to trial. She explains that roadside drug tests don’t exist yet but juries often expect that kind of evidence.

“We’ve had juries find people not guilty of DUI drugs in this state and have told the prosecutors after that they don’t understand why there’s no test,” George said.

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