They're swerving and crashing into curb. Sounds like behavior of a drunk driver, but it's not. The drivers are on prescription pills. Earlier this week the AAA of Texas said drugged driving has now surpassed drinking and driving as the top impairment problem on our roadway.
In January of 2014 a driver calls into APD to report a vehicle swerving on I-35. FOX 7 obtained dash camera video that picks up when an officer catches up to the vehicle. He too witnesses it sway far out of its lane. When he makes the stop, the driver tells the officer he thought he was in San Antonio.
Officer: "You're not in San Antonio right now. You're not anywhere near the roadways which you told me you thought were the roads you're on."
Driver: "I thought I was pretty close to San Antonio. In fact, my GPS, I think it said 7 miles."
The driver also told the officer he took the pain medication Tramadol. He was arrested and has since been convicted of DWI.
Several months later, Austin police get a call of a driver slumped over the steering wheel of a truck in the middle of MLK by the UT campus. As the responding officer approaches, you can see people by the truck banging on the window.
It wakes up the driver. As he pulls away, you can see him strike the curb. Then just as the officer activates his lights, the driver runs a red light and gets close to striking a person crossing the street. He strikes another curb and comes to a stop.
Officer: "Somebody called in and said you were passed out in the parking lot. You think you just went to sleep?" Suspect: "Yeah. I woke up at 5 in the morning.
The officer conducts a field sobriety test. The driver initially denied taking any medication.
Officer: "You haven't had anything."
Officer: "No prescription pills?"
Suspect: "No. I said I was just tired."
Officers say the driver admitted to taking Alprazolam, better known as Xanax, which is a mild tranquilizer. Officers noted the truck smelled like marijuana.
This driver was also charged and convicted of DWI.
The AAA says drugged driving is now more prolific than drinking and driving. In Ohio officials are reporting drivers overdosing on heroin and crashing. The agency is working with law enforcement to raise awareness about the problem and promote more training for officers to recognize the signs.