WSP: Driver could have been on drugs in Van Giesen crash

WSP: Driver could have been on drugs in Van Giesen crash »Play Video
WEST RICHLAND, Wash. -- KEPR has new information on a serious car crash in West Richland. Troopers now believe the driver may have been high on drugs when she caused a wreck Wednesday afternoon.

One of her passengers is in critical condition in a Seattle hospital. Troopers say the number of drivers they're pulling over who are under the influence has never been higher.

The scene on Van Giesen and Keene Road was frantic. A truck smashed into a sedan that ran a stop sign, pushing both cars off the road and knocking down a street light. Four people went to the hospital, one had to be flown to a trauma center.

State Patrol now believes the driver of this sedan may have been under the influence of drugs.

One thing many of you brought up on our Facebook post Wednesday was that the intersection isn't exactly a blind spot. You can see for at least 50 yards in every direction, which gives credence to the idea that who ever was driving that car was probably under the influence of something.

Blood results won't be available for a few weeks, but the initial investigation suggests driver Rebecca Meincke was high.

"We've definitely seen an up-tick in prescription pills and marijuana while driving," says Trooper Chris Thorson.

He says it's not as easy to arrest someone for DUI when the intoxicant is marijuana and not alcohol, because marijuana affects everyone differently.

Much like a blood alcohol limit, drivers can only have five nonograms of THC in their blood per milliliter.

"Let's say you smoke a joint and then go out and drive an hour later. You may not necessarily be at that nanogram level set up by the legislature, but it may be affecting you to the point where you can't drive," Trooper Thorson says.

Typically, Troopers who suspect a driver under the influence will call in a Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE. The DRE uses a battery of tests to see if the driver shouldn't be behind the wheel.

"What their pupil size might be, what's their blood pressure, what's their heart rate, things like that," Trooper Thorson added.

And had the driver of the car Wednesday been stopped, the accident might not have happened.

The 23 year old woman who was flown to Seattle is still in critical condition. We don't know the extent of her injuries. WSP says the investigation is on-going and charges may be filed by the prosecutor when the driver's blood results are returned.