Vermont Leaders Want to Crack Down on Impaired Driving

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - Vermont leaders want to crack down on impaired driving in the Green Mountain State.

Vermont has seen 62 highway deaths this year, about half of which are alcohol, drug or alcohol and drug related, according to Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn.

"That is just simply not an acceptable number, we should be able to do better from that,” said Flynn.

On Wednesday, Flynn and highway safety experts sought ways to combat impaired driving in the state.

"The drugs are popping up as the most common, it appears to be anti-depressants and again cannabis," said Mary Spicer, of the Vermont Agency of Transportation's Highway Safety Division.

According Spicer, Cannabis, or marijuana, is the number one drug present in drivers in crashes on Vermont highways.

Officials say it's a problem that might only get worse, especially after neighboring states like Maine and Massachusetts voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

But before Vermont even thinks about legalizing marijuana, Commissioner Flynn says the state needs to think about how to crack down on drugged driving.

“That's making sure that we have the proper forensic information to determine whether somebody's driving impaired on our highways,” said Flynn.

The tool Commissioner Flynn is talking about is a roadside fluid test, which is also called a saliva swab.

"I think what we are going to see eventually is we are going to move to a nanogram limit, that's what states such as Colorado, Washington and other states have done,” Flynn said.

The fluid test would allow officers to test for pot or other drugs at the scene and cut down the time it takes to transport suspects for testing.

But besides detection tools, the state will also look at the option to station more troopers to stop impaired drivers.

"We're letting the data determine where we're going to deploy our resources and how we're going to do that. So that is a real important thing for us to do," says Commissioner Flynn.

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