UCSO Conducting Enhanced Patrols to Target Impaired Drivers

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Every year more than 10,000 people die on U.S. highways due to impaired driving.

With that in mind, the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office is conducting enhanced patrols in search of impaired drivers as part of a grant funded by Oregon Impact.

This DUII High Visibility Enforcement went is in effect through Sept. 4. UCSO deputies will actively seek out distracted or impaired drivers to prevent injuries and deaths on our highways. The deputies of the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office are trained to recognize the signs of persons who are not only impaired by alcohol, but also by legal and illegal drugs, including prescriptions.

“Historically, drivers in Oregon could only be arrested for DUII if they were driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, inhalants or cannabis,” said Lt. Josh Roberts. “There are a lot of non-controlled drugs that can impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle.

In addition to the enhanced patrols, UCSO also wants to educate people about a recent change in the law. On Aug. 1, Gov. Tina Kotek signed Oregon HB 2316 into law. Starting Jan. 1, 2024, a person can be arrested and charged with DUII for driving under the influence of “any impairing substance.” This can include things like drinking an entire bottle of cough syrup or taking an over-the-counter medication (such as Benadryl) in amounts well above the doses as directed on the label. It can also include things like kratom and tianeptine, which are sold in many gas stations and mini marts around the country.

Report suspected impaired drivers by calling 541-966-3650, or 911 if it appears to be an emergency.

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