Monday Briefing: Drugged driving arrests way up on L.I.

FILE PHOTO | Prescription pill abuse is seen as a big reason why drugged driving arrests are up on Long Island.

Drugged driving arrests have increased 40 percent on Long Island since 2001, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced at a press conference Sunday.

I can’t say I’m completely shocked.

Between incidents like the Medford pharmacy shooting and the growing number of driving under the influence reports popping up on our police blotters, mostly related to pills, it’s clear to me that prescription pill dependency has exploded here.

But the numbers released by the Senator Sunday are still alarming.

There were 530 drugged driving arrests in 2011 on Long Island, up from 377 in 2001. And that’s just the number of people being caught in arrests that do not also involve alcohol.

There were more drugged driving arrests here than there were in New York City (357) or the lower Hudson Valley (232), Sen. Schumer reported. But those two regions saw a larger percentage increase from 2001.

Long Island’s drugged driving arrests account for 16 percent of the total drugged driving arrests in New York State.

Sen. Schumer was touting legislation that would provide funding to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that he said, for the first time, would allow for research on developing technologies that can help officers identify drugged drivers on site, at traffic stops.

• Longtime Times/Review staff photographer Barbaraellen Koch might be best known in these parts for her work behind the lens. But this weekend she penned an interesting story on an event she attended at Riverhead Free Library, where an author discussed his book about the history of shipwrecks off the coast of Long Island.

• I loved this reader photo sent to us this weekend.

• Interesting to see Southampton was the only East End town to see a growth in CPF revenue in 2011.