Iowa City Police See Increase in "Drugged Driving" Arrests

By Mark Carlson, Reporter


By Liz Blood

IOWA CITY, Iowa - More people are being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in Iowa City.

Police data from the last decade shows 156 people have been arrested for drugged driving in the last two years. In the two years prior there were just 79 such arrests, with data trending downward from there.

"It's an issue and I think there has been a lot of attention out there about people abusing prescription drugs, obviously the use of marijuana and synthetic drugs," said Sgt. Denise Brotherton of the Iowa City police department.

More education and expansion of "drug recognition" programs is also leading to the uptick, Brotherton said.

"We're fortunate here in Johnson County having those drug recognition officers in with our own departments, we have a couple of them, so that certainly helps," she said.

Iowa City, Coralville and University of Iowa police as well as the Johnson County sheriff's office all have at least one full-time Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) on staff.

"I think it's an awareness thing, so many officers before only looked for alcohol impaired drivers," said Pete Ungaro, a DRE with the Johnson County sheriff's office. "Now they're getting the tools needed to realize there is other impairment besides alcohol."

Statewide there are just over 110 Drug Recognition Experts, according to Ungaro.

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