Health experts say drugged driving behind spike in OVI arrests in Ohio

Health experts are warning that drugged driving is behind the statewide spike in OVI arrests for the first part of the year.

Leaders at Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services said they believe an increase in the availability of marijuana is to blame, as is the misconception that driving while under the influence of marijuana isn’t dangerous.

Just last year, there were 251 drug-related OVI crashes, according to the county ADAMHS agency, and eight fatal drug-related crashes in Montgomery County.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen an increase in OVIs in the state,” said Tristyn Eppley of the Montgomery County Prevention Coalition. “This is concerning.”

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Data from the Miami Valley OVI Task Force also show in Montgomery County that one out of every five OVI crashes was drug-related.

“In Montgomery County, we do know that, unfortunately, young people are seeing, they’re perceiving marijuana to be less risky,” and that driving while high isn’t as dangerous as drunken driving, Eppley said.

"Oftentimes people joke about ‘Oh, what are they doing to do, are they going to drive slower?’ Truly yeah, individuals will drive slower, they’ll have slower reaction times, slower judgment, slower coordination; it decreases their ability to multitask,” Eppley said.

Meanwhile, the city of Dayton recently got rid of fines and court fees for minor misdemeanor marijuana violations -- a move leaders at the county ADAMHS council said is a safety issue because it could increase the number of drug-related OVI crashes in the city.

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