Attorney General Andy Beshear is joining with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Unified Prosecutorial System to offer a three-day training to educate prosecutors and law enforcement officials on the detection, apprehension and prosecution of drugged drivers.
The AG’s office will host the annual regional seminar “Prosecuting the Drugged Driver,” April 18-20, at the Radisson in Covington.
“My administration is focused on addressing the persistent challenges our families face, and one of those is better addressing Kentucky’s drug epidemic,” Beshear said. “Every time our families, our friends or our children get in a vehicle, they are at risk of being harmed by a driver under the influence of drugs.”
Beshear said Kentucky, like other states, is facing the worst drug overdose epidemic in American history, citing a recent New York Times article that said the epidemic is spurred by rising drug abuse, increased availability of prescription opioids and an influx of potent synthetics like fentanyl and carfentanil.
The goal of the Covington training is to create a team building approach in the detection, apprehension and prosecution of drivers impaired by illicit and prescription drugs, Beshear said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recent roadside survey, about 20 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one drug in 2015, up from 12 percent in 2007.
Additionally, the University of Kentucky Transportation Center concluded that in 2015 there were 233 fatal drug-related crashes in the Commonwealth.
The three-day training is coordinated through the Attorney General’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program. The training is funded through the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety with grant funds provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and our Office of Highway Safety, look forward to continuing a very effective partnership with the Office of the Attorney General to provide funding in support of the Commonwealth’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor,” said Dr. Noelle Hunter, executive director at the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. “The TSRP program has done an exceptional job in conducting training workshops and coordinating training opportunities for both law enforcement and prosecutors throughout the state. It is not only our responsibility, it is a priority of this administration to provide all highway safety professionals with the tools and resources they need to save and protect lives on our highways.”
Representatives of the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will attend the training.
“We are grateful to be invited to participate in the training,” said Rosalind Donald, MADD victim advocate. “MADD’s driving purpose is to shed light on the long-lasting effects the impaired driving crashes create for victims and survivors. In 2015, MADD officially changed its mission statement to include victims of drugged driving offenders. Impaired driving is a serious crime. Trainings such as these help ensure that the criminal justice system addresses DUI charges consistently and effectively, which ultimately helps protect society from needless death and injury.”
Representatives from the American Automobile Association (AAA) will also attend the conference.
“Drugged driving is one of the greatest threats to the safety of motorists today,” said Cheryl Parker, regional director, public and government affairs for AAA. “AAA looks forward to this important training that will give stakeholders in the criminal justice system what they need from the roadside to the courtroom to keep drugged drivers off the road.”