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Registered: 06/18/99
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Drug of choice
    #4274530 - 06/09/05 03:23 AM (11 years, 4 months ago)


Drug of choice
Older people face DUI charges; youths into meth, marijuana

By Sheryl Marsh
DAILY Staff Writer
smarsh@decaturdaily.com ? 340-2437

Driving under the influence offenders are usually in their 40s by the time they get a felony charge, while younger people face charges for marijuana, crack cocaine and crystal meth.

Morgan County District Attorney Bob Burrell said offenders build a history of DUI misdemeanors before getting a felony charge.

"I guess part of the reason is that they have to acquire three DUIs before getting a felony DUI," Burrell said. "It takes a period of time to get that many cases against you and that's why the offenders are usually older."

A few people have gotten multiple DUIs in a couple of years but not many, Burrell said.

Most drug cases involve offenders in their 20s and 30s. These are immediate felonies and reflect the way society views alcohol vs. drugs. There are some older people who deal in drugs, mainly crystal meth, Burrell said.

"We just don't see the big age difference with the drugs as we do with felony DUIs," Burrell said.

In all other crimes, including theft, age varies.

Jim England, an investigator with the Sheriff's Department, said county arrests follow the trend that Burrell described.

"Your meth users are primarily white males and females, ranging from their early 20s to middle 30s," England said.

"Over the past four years, crack users are primarily in their late 20s and early 30s. It's not gender or race specific because it's pretty much Hispanic, white and black."

He said DUI offenders begin in the late 30s and go up to 50.

Chief Deputy Mike Corley said illegal drug use emerged from illegal whiskey drinking.

"They've gone from alcohol abuse to marijuana, cocaine and pills," said Corley. "In the 1970s it was LSD, then cocaine, then crack and now what's really widespread is crystal meth."

Corley said it all started at the old whiskey still with illegal manufacturers.

"I can remember when we used to lay out and watch the whiskey stills," Corley said. "The big thing was the transport. Vehicles were much larger back then, and the key things that punched our button were the low rear ends."

The trunks would be full of moonshine whiskey and people were getting drunk.

"A lot of the people who have had drinking problems for years are mainly the ones with a history of drunk driving," Corley said. "But it started years ago with the illegal stills and from that all the other illegal substances took off."

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