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Drugs are a rising factor in Washington holiday DUI arrests

The Washington State Patrol reports a rise in driving under the influence of drugs such as prescription medications and heroin. (AP)

Drunk driving is a common issue on the road, but in Washington state, drug-driving is becoming just as much of a problem.

“We are seeing a 14 percent rise in fatal collisions from 2014-15 when it comes to drug-impaired drivers,” said Kyle Moore with the Washington State Patrol.

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Washington troopers always keep a keen eye out for impaired driving on holiday weekends, and the Fourth of July is one of the more intently watched celebrations. After all, impaired driving caused 46 percent of traffic-related deaths in the state during 2015.

From Friday to Tuesday morning, Washington state troopers made 211 DUI arrests. That’s an increase of at least 30 over last year, according to Moore.

But the number of alcohol-related DUIs is roughly the same as in previous years. What troopers are noticing is a rise in drug-related incidents on the road — and legal marijuana is not the issue, according to Moore.

Troopers are encountering drivers using “a multitude of drugs,” Moore said. That includes heroin, prescription medications and bath salts.

“One of the new changes that we are seeing is that people aren’t realizing that taking these medications, or taking drugs and getting behind the wheel of a car, is as equal if not more dangerous than drinking and driving,” Moore said.

Moore stressed that sober drivers should always call 911 for any activity on the road that appears to be intoxicated driving.

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