Tennessee Highway Safety Office Promotes National Drug Take Back Initiative

  • Friday, October 21, 2016
In efforts to prevent drugged-impaired driving statewide, the Tennessee Highway Safety Office encourages Tennesseans to participate in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back initiative on Saturday. THSO asks residents to dispose of unused and/or outdated prescription drugs to help prevent the illegal use and abuse of prescription drugs by drivers.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, law enforcement agencies, community advocates, and participating pharmacies across the nation will host community drug take-back events to spread awareness and educate the public on the many local resources available for the safe, convenient, and eco-friendly disposal of prescription drugs. 

“Often times, people don’t realize that any unused medications can be properly disposed at local police departments, sheriff’s offices, and many pharmacies,” said Richard Holt, State Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) coordinator and Law Enforcement administrator for THSO.
“Drugged-impaired driving is an issue because some people tend to drink alcohol when they have prescription medication(s) in their system.  We advise people to read the labels on prescription medication bottles. If it says you cannot operate machinery while medicated, you certainly cannot drive.”  

A drug recognition expert (DRE) is a law enforcement officer trained to detect impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.  Drug impairment includes seven categories of influence: depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotics, analgesics, inhalants, and cannabis. Currently, there are approximately 145 DRE expert law enforcement officers in Tennessee.  There were 115 in 2015.

Friday, THSO will host a sobriety checkpoint in the Rockwood community to focus on detecting drugged-impaired driving. This will be the first sobriety checkpoint conducted in Tennessee that will focus mainly on drugged-impaired driving, in addition to alcohol-impaired driving.  To learn more about THSO’s drug recognition expert program, visit www.tntrafficsafety.org/dre-program.
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