Officer trained to find DUI's not involving alcohol

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) - Officers are seeing a rise in the number of impaired drivers who are on something other than alcohol. When that happens, they bring in a specially trained officer who can find what a person might be on.

Sergeant Dean Matlock of the Idaho State Police was one of the first drug detection officers in the state starting back in 1996. Now he also trains officers from around the state to do the same.

With the rise in the number of people taking prescription drugs, some drivers are hitting the road impaired without knowing it. Because there is no breathalyzer test to show if a person is on something other than alcohol that's where drug detection officer comes in.

The test they run is normally at a jail once a driver has failed a field sobriety test and has been arrested. It normally takes 45 minutes to an hour. Unlike a field sobriety test, Sgt. Matlock says there are things they detect that you can't fake your way out of.

"You can practice the one-leg-stand you can practice the walk-and-turn and those types of things, but you can't practice this stuff. It's physical evidence. It is what it is," said Matlock.

Police emphasize they are not out to bust people who take their regular medications, and then get behind the wheel. They do want drivers to realize the things they take can impair them. Just because it's prescribed or over the counter doesn't make it safe if used improperly.

Matlock said because of the increase in non alcohol DUI's they now have to patrol differently. Normally, DUI's happened from 11:30pm to 2:00am when people were out drinking. Now they are looking for impaired drivers during the day because medications have caused them to rise.