Updated 01/27/2013 05:08 PM
Albany Sheriff to launch prescription drug awareness campaign
Recent accidents have shed light on the dangers of driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Many don't know the legal outcomes of doing this. YNN's Madeleine Rivera explains an effort in Albany County to raise awareness.
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ALBANY COUNTY, N.Y. -- This was the scene at Route 32 in Coeymans just a few weeks ago: A rollover accident that sent five people to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Police said that the driver, Cassandra Ray, lost control of the Jeep and rolled it. Before getting behind the wheel, police say Ray had taken prescription drugs.
"Look, we want the public to know, look, when it says don't operate heavy machinery, it doesn't mean you can go out and drive," said Albany Sheriff Craig Apple.
Apple says not too many people know the dangers of driving while under the influence of prescribed drugs. Many more don't know the legal consequences.
"The law in drunk driving or impaired driving is not limited to alcohol. If you're taking any type of drug, whether it's an illegal drug like marijuana or a prescribed drug and it impairs your ability to drive, you're responsible and you can be ticketed," said Paul Der Ohannesian, a legal analyst for YNN.
Just a few weeks ago, LuAnn Burgess was sentenced to five years probation for hitting and killing three women in August 2011. Toxicology results showed Burgess was taking three prescription medications at the time of the crash.
"We don't want the public to think, hey we're coming after you for this, but our goal here is to get the message out: Just because you're taking lawful ‘scripts doesn't preclude you from criminal liability for operating a vehicle in our highways," said Apple.
It's a message that Apple's been trying to spread to the public. These posters are just one method of getting the word out. He's also reached out to the elected county and state officials and wants to work with CDTA.
"We just want that public service announcement out there that please, just check with your doctor," said Apple.
There's already a drug awareness ad at the Armory Garage. Apple says he expects other ads to be released in the next couple of weeks.