SFPD bumps enforcement of drugged drivers

The San Francisco Police Department is stepping up education, training and enforcement to combat the emerging prevalence of drug-impaired driving.

The police department will not only be focusing their attention on curbing drug-impaired driving, but will continue their efforts to curb alcohol-impaired driving in San Francisco, thanks to a recently awarded $255,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The grant, which comes via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will assist the police department in getting their officers trained in specialized DUI and drugged driving training.

San Francisco police spokesman Officer Michael Andraychak said detecting when a driver is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, requires special training.

The department expects more officers to be trained on drug recognition as a result of this grant.

In addition to the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, which San Francisco police officers receive training in during their time at the police academy, the traffic safety grant helps fund training of more officers in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, known as ARIDE, and Drug Recognition Expert training, or DRE.

According to the San Francisco Police Department, only 40 police officers are ARIDE certified and only 14 officers are DREs.

The grant will also go toward a year-long program of special enforcements and public awareness efforts aimed at preventing traffic related deaths and injuries.

San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said Thursday that the police department would be doing more to combat speeding drivers on city streets.

“If every driver in San Francisco would commit to taking a little more care to slow down and drive more responsibly we could be a place where no one is ever seriously injured or killed in a traffic collision,” Suhr said.

According to the police department, the number of persons killed and injured in traffic collisions fell dramatically between 2006 and 2010, but has been slowly rising again.

In addition to the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving, there has also been a recent increase in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and growing dangers stemming from distracting technologies, according to the police department.

The funding provided by the grant aims to make the roads of San Francisco safer by educating drivers and by providing training so officers can better enforce the law.

San Francisco residents and those visiting the city should be prepared to see an increase in DUI checkpoints, DUI saturation patrols, distracted driving enforcement, and general traffic safety enforcements.

The chief said the department would also focus specifically on stopping drivers who speed near schools and senior centers.

He said drivers must slow down when in the presence of the city’s most vulnerable residents.