(Updated: adding video, comments from police representative)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — In the past week, police say a drugged driver crashed into the Tumalo Fire Station, causing significant damage, and a deadly crash on the parkway Wednesday night involved both a drunk and a drugged driver.
In light of these recent alleged drunk driving crashes, it begs the question: Are DUIIs, whether by alcohol or drugs, on the rise in Bend?
DUII stands for driving under the influence of intoxicants. Oregon’s clear definition for DUII charges makes all forms of impairment while driving equally illegal — meaning it’s illegal to drive while drugged, or high, as well.
Bend Police Communications Manager Sheila Miller tells NewsChannel 21 that the number of impaired drivers in Bend is rising.
“DUIIs in this community are significant, and they’re a real problem,” Miller said Thursday.
In 2021, Bend police arrested 509 DUII drivers. This year, as of Thursday, they’ve made 528 arrests — and there’s still nearly 2 1/2 months left.
“The bulk of those are alcohol, but there are also drug impairments that lead to DUII arrests as well,” Miller said.
It’s a trend that’s been going up each year.
Since 2019, the number of DUII arrests has risen significantly. Miller says as of July of this year, 20% of DUII arrests had blood alcohol contents nearly three times the legal limit.
“We have a lot of breweries in town, we have a lot of alcohol culture here, and I think there’s this idea that everybody drinks in our community == and that’s not true,” Miller said. “There’s also no excuse now, right? We have Ubers, we have Lyfts, we have taxis, we have buses — we have all kinds of ways to get around safely.”
DUII arrests are happening at all hours of the day.
“I think a lot of people only think DUIIs happen at night, but we see arrests during the day — 8 o’clock in the morning, noon, 2 p.m. It’s also drugs,” Miller said.
The main drug people are on when arrested for a DUII is methamphetamine, but that’s not the only one.
“There were also many with marijuana in their system,”” Miller said. “Sometimes it’s a combination, sometimes its a legally prescribed medication that’s being misused — or you know, you aren’t supposed to drive once you’ve taken it, that sort of thing.”
The Bend Police Department has a DUII enforcement team, made up of two officers who are only focused on finding impaired drivers. Miller says the department is prioritizing other staffing needs right now, but might add more officers to the team.
“It’s definitely something to consider,” Miller said. “We know that they’re contributing to crashes, they’re contributing to people dying on our roads and so whatever we need to do — we’re open to looking at that.”
The post ‘A real problem’: DUIIs on the rise in Bend, police say appeared first on KTVZ.