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DUIs Spike Dramatically In Eugene

Flickr.com's Del Scorcho

The rate of DUI arrests for drugs has shot up considerably in Eugene, according to police.  And as KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, the rate involving drugs and alcohol is even higher.

A Eugene police spokesman says cases of people driving under the influence of drugs are up 86 percent from a two-year average.  Cases of drugs and alcohol are up 138 percent.

EPD officer Travis Cooper says there’s been growth in such DUIs in states where cannabis has been legalized, namely Washington, Colorado, and Oregon.  

Credit Brian Bull
Eugene Police Department officer Travis Cooper.

“At the same time legalization has occurred, there’s been this growth in the marijuana concentrate industry.  And high THC strains," adds Cooper.  " So I don’t know how much of it has to do with legalization, people have been smoking marijuana here for a long time.  

"But the strains are just getting a lot stronger.  Which makes it easier for officers to recognize  the impairment because the impairment is a lot more significant.”

THC is the active substance that gives marijuana its “high”.

Credit Eugene Police Department PIO.

Cooper says there’s currently no breathalyzer test for cannabis. But police says bloodshot eyes and an inability to judge time and distance are things they look for when determining if a driver is under the influence of cannabis.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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