Jim Irsay's arrest highlights growing problem

Police seeing more drugged driving

INDIANAPOLIS - Colts owner Jim Irsay’s recent arrest highlights a growing problem across both Indiana and the nation: With greater frequency, police are seeing more people driving under the influence of prescription drugs than alcohol.

Irsay is a unique public figure, ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 1,029th wealthiest person in the world, but the charges he faces have become rather commonplace, officials said.

GALLERY: Jim Irsay Arrest

Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department set up a sobriety checkpoint Monday evening. Police said that drug use is becoming more prevalent and the problem is getting worse.

In the past two years, police in Indianapolis have arrested nearly 4,000 operators for driving under the influence.

Police said more than half of those arrested drove under the influence of prescription drugs.

"You've got people running into houses, right through intersections. There's no good drug to take and drive period," IMPD Sgt. Mike Duke said.

Carmel police arrested 54-year old Irsay just before midnight Sunday after they say he drove erratically through a neighborhood near the Village of West Clay.

Inside his vehicle, police reported finding several prescription drugs, along with a number of pill bottles that didn't match the medications.

Irsay, who has battled prescription drug issues in the past , posted bond and was freed on $22,500 bond.

In Indiana alone, overdose deaths from prescription drugs have risen by 400 percent since 1999. Oftentimes, people who start taking pain medications find they can't stop, experts said.

"At that point in time, they have difficulty getting off the medication because they're physically dependent upon it," St. Vincent Hospital outpatient therapist Adam Allman said.

Experts say being over-served or over-medicated both have an equally debilitating impact on the body.

"Obviously, prescription drugs are needed, but only within a therapeutic level, and even then, some drugs are just really a bad idea to drive under the circumstances," Duke said.

Irsay faces one misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated and four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. He will appear in court March 26.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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