CDOT Launches New Campaign to Target Marijuana Impaired Driving Drive High, Get a DUI STATEWIDE—Colorado made history this year by becoming the first state to sell marijuana to anyone over the age of 21. At a press conference this afternoon, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) made history again by announcing the launch of an education campaign targeted at drivers about the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana. In 2012, there were 630 drivers involved in 472 motor vehicle fatalities on Colorado roadways. Of the 630 drivers involved, 286 were tested for drugs. Nearly 27 percent of drivers tested had a positive drug test, with 12 percent testing positive for cannabis. The official kick-off of CDOT’s new Drive High, Get a DUI campaign includes a series of television commercials that will air during shows targeting males between the ages 21-34, who tend to have the highest number of DUIs. There will also be widespread outreach to rental car companies and dispensaries to inform tourists and marijuana users about marijuana driving laws in Colorado. “Before beginning the campaign, we did extensive research about medical and recreational marijuana users’ perceptions of marijuana’s effects on driving,” said Amy Ford, CDOT Communications Director. “We heard repeatedly that people thought marijuana didn’t impact their driving ability, and some believed it actually made them a better
DENVER – Colorado is launching a new “Drive High, Get A DUI” campaign to remind drivers that newly legal weed should be treated like alcohol and not consumed before driving. The campaign includes radio and TV ads and new posters to be displayed in dispensaries. The other part of the effort is enforcement. Right now, 200 officers of various agencies are trained recognition experts. Another 20 graduated with that certification Thursday. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper calls this a top priority, and wants at least 300 officers to be trained with this certification by next year. During 56 hours of training, officers are taught a 12-step process for recognizing the symptoms of drivers who may be impaired by a variety of drugs or alcohol. With marijuana, the officers are taught to look for enlarged pupils, sniff for the drug’s odor and look for small tremors in the driver’s body. “We teach them to look at certain things, and it is kind of an elimination process,” said Sgt. Rodney Noga from the Colorado State Patrol. Officers also check blood pressure, muscle softness and look for injection sites for other kinds of drug use. If drivers fail the observation test, a blood test is the next option to confirm or deny the presence of drug or alcohol impairment. The effort from the Colorado
DENVER — The state of Colorado is using humor to drive home the point that drivers who smoke marijuana will get a DUI if they drive High. State officials with CDOT, CSP and the Governor’s office, joined the members of the marijuana industry to unveil the new “Drive High Get a DUI” campaign. The campaign includes three television ads, which poke fun at people who are high after smoking marijuana recreationally. One of the ads shows a man who is struggling to ignite his grill, only to discover that he has no propane tank attached. The ad simply says… “Grilling high is now legal. Driving to get the propane you forgot isn’t.”Despite the humor, state officials say history shows that the public awareness campaigns are effective. “Programs such as “Drive High Get a DUI” will make a difference,” said Andrew Freedman, Director of Marijuana Coordination for the Governor’s office. “We know that it will save lives.” The ads will be broadcast in English and Spanish across the state. Marijuana industry members, who helped with the campaign, are also going to be posting print ads in their stores. “I think most importantly we need to, as responsible vendors, be sparking that conversation that carries on outside of our stores,” said Elan Nelson, Vice-Chair of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. Stats on
Fatal Crashes involving marijuana use tripled during the previous decade, according to researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The pot related accidents have helped fuel the overall increase in drugged-driving traffic deaths. As widespread acceptance of marijuana becomes the norm in the U.S., demonstrated by recent legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, many experts fear a continuing upward spiral of marijuana related traffic injuries and deaths. “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.” The study draws its conclusions from statistics on more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010. The toxicology tests were performed on victims from six states including: California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. While alcohol related traffic fatalities remained steady at 40% throughout the decade, drug related deaths soared from 16% in 1999 to a whopping 28% in 2010. Significantly, the study cites marijuana use as the leading culprit for the swelling number of drug related traffic deaths, contributing to 12 percent
Thoughtful piece in today’s New York Times about the state of DUI-marijuana enforcement. Look for further pushes to establish “per se” marijuana levels at which driving is illegal.
California continues its seemingly inexorable march toward marijuana legalization, but even if weed becomes legal, driving under the influence won’t. Tens of thousands will still be prosecuted for allegedly driving when their ability to see, think or operate their motor vehicle is impaired by any psychoactive substance, including weed. Here’s a run-down on current California drugged driving law, how people get popped for it, what the punishments are, and how to act right. What is a DUI for Marijuana? A DUI for drugs is considered driving under the influence of drugs (in this specific case, marijuana). Sometimes, it can be difficult to prove what constitutes a “DUI” for marijuana, since blood tests can’t prove when you consumed marijuana, just that you did at some point. “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects,” the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) writes. According to California law, in order to be convicted of a DUI for drugs, you must be impaired to such an extent that you lack the “ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances.” Thus, the charge and conviction can be rather subjective and usually takes into account some combination of your driving pattern, physical appearance, performance