New numbers for 2016 show 26 percent of Hamilton County drivers pulled over for operating a vehicle under the influence were impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol.
Of the 254 drivers stopped through November 30, 2017:
- 42 were on drugs
- 67 were on both alcohol and drugs
The Sheriff's Department has sent deputies to special training so they can better recognize drugged drivers, according to Sgt. Mike Tarr with the Traffic Safety Unit. "What really started to catch people's attention was these noon stops where somebody was passed out on Beechmont Avenue with a needle in their arm, because heroin has brought this to the forefront. Everyone knew it was a problem that's been in police work."
It was a problem December 20, 2016, when a Cincinnati man, allegedly high on heroin, drove off the road and into a Price Hill parking lot. Twenty-four year old Wember Grande was working on a car at Advanced Auto Parts. He suffered life-threatening injuries. Michael Felchner, the driver, was not injured.
According to the Hamilton County Coroner's Office these are the drugs most often seen in OVI cases, not necessarily in this order:
- Heroin metabolite(6-MAM)
- Marijuana (THC and metabolites)
- Cocaine and metabolites
Sergeant Tarr says what makes it difficult for deputies is that not every case is the same and involves a little more police work to determine if a driver is on drugs. He expects the numbers to level off, saying any increase might be due to better police training.