The first quarter statistics of 2017 has shown a drop of 33 percent in marijuana-related DUI traffic stops, which has been steadily declining each year. Even with the decline, officials are still skeptical about whether this decrease can be attributed to fewer drivers being under the influence or is simply linked to fewer drivers being stopped. While troopers have been arresting for marijuana DUIs for a long time, the testing relies on trooper assessment during the actual stop. Unless drivers are violating traffic laws or showing signs of impaired driving, they are not likely to be pulled over and assessed.
If rates are dropping, Why the skepticism?
The skepticism officials may feel, despite the reduction of marijuana-related traffic stops, may be the result of a survey conducted by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). At least 55 percent of those surveyed said that they did not feel that they were impaired while driving under the influence of marijuana and felt that the drug was safe to utilize while driving. While the spokesman for the CDOT, Sam Cole, said they appreciate the honesty of those surveyed so that they can get accurate research, the number of people who feel it is safe to drive under the influence of marijuana troubles him. In a recent quote in The Denver Post, he stated, “There’s a lot of troubling information we’ve collected and many marijuana users indicate they drive high and they don’t think it’s a danger…Fifty percent of marijuana users say they have driven high.”
“Drive high, get a DUI”
To increase awareness of not only marijuana-related impairment while driving, but also the consequences of being caught, CDOT has launched the “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign. The campaign focuses on safety while driving, as well as provides information on the consequences of being caught while driving under the influence.
While the numbers are dwindling each year, officials say it is hard to get a measurable figure on the actual rates as they are only looking at citations issued and not arrests or convictions. Additionally, with so many users reporting use while driving, officials believe the number of drivers driving under the influence may be significantly higher than the numbers reflect.
Officials like Sam Cole are hoping to be able to spread awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana, as well as the necessity of planning for safe rides when attending events. CDOT is hoping these messages will lead to positive changes in user behavior changes and continue to decrease the number of marijuana-related DUI traffic stops. The ultimate goal is to alter the perception that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe.