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New money to help law enforcement crack down on stoned drivers

New money to help law enforcement crack down on stoned drive

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Colorado Department of Transportation said Monday it will receive federal money to train more law enforcement officers to spot stoned drivers.

According to C-DOT's website, a Colorado Drug Recognition Expert is a law enforcement officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. There are currently 185 active DREs around the state. New federal money will cover training for 35 more officers.

Michelle Archer is a Colorado State Patrol Trooper and a DRE. She is called in when another trooper suspects a person is driving under the influence of drugs.

"The officer can ask the party that's under arrest if they are willing to participate in a voluntary drug evaluation and that's where the actually DRE comes in and performs it. It takes about an hour, hour and a half. It's an intensive evaluation," said Archer.

Archer said law enforcement agencies across Colorado need more DREs now that recreational marijuana is legal for people over 21.

"The more troopers and officers we can get through the program, I think that again it's going to increase the likelihood that those officers will be better trained to monitor those signs and symptoms," said Archer.

On Saturday, a driver was arrested for driving while stoned after hitting two Colorado State Patrol vehicles in Denver. Troopers were investigating a crash when the driver hit the vehicles.

"It's obviously something that concerns us and our focus is to try and stop those drivers from getting behind the wheel," said Sgt. Jason Jones with Colorado State Patrol.

Archer said sending more troopers, deputies and officers through DRE course will help keep more people safe on the roads.

"I do think we will see an increase is the number of people smoking and driving under the influence of marijuana," said Archer.

C-DOT received a $400,000 grant from the National High Traffic Safety Administration.  It plans to launch a TV campaign to encourage sober driving in March.

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