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On the 20th of April (also known as 4/20 — a term associated with marijuana use) many marijuana users will observe a day of increased marijuana use. The New York State Police are using this day to remind drivers of the dangers of driving under the influence of any substance.
Drug-impaired driving has become an increasing danger on our nation’s roads. Last month, New York became the latest state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, in addition to permitting use of the drug for medical purposes. The State Police want to remind New Yorkers that it is illegal to drive impaired by marijuana or any other substance.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers these safety tips and reminds drivers of the dangers of driving while impaired:
- If you’re planning to use marijuana, do not drive. Designate a sober driver who won’t be using marijuana or use public transportation or a ride-sharing service. Someone who’s high shouldn’t be making decisions about driving; that’s why planning ahead is key.
- According to NHTSA, between 2009 and 2018, of those drivers killed in crashes and tested for marijuana, the presence of marijuana had nearly doubled.
- In 2018, 46% of drivers who were killed in crashes and were tested for drugs, tested positive.
- It doesn’t matter what term you use: If a person is feeling a little high, buzzed, stoned, wasted, or drunk, he or she is impaired and should never get behind the wheel.
- In every U.S. state and territory, it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs — no exceptions.
- Whether the drug is legal or not, drug-impaired driving poses a threat to the driver, passengers, and other road users.
- If you think driving while high from marijuana won’t affect you, you are wrong: It has been shown that marijuana can slow reaction times, impair cognitive performance, and make it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their lane.
- Your best defense against impaired drivers on the road is your seat belt. Wear it on every trip, and make sure your passengers do, too.
The Cost of Impaired Driving
- On average, an arrest for impaired driving can set you back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing, and more.
- If you’re caught driving under the influence of any impairing substance, you can face jail time.
- Drug-impaired driving could cause you to lose your driver’s license and your vehicle. This could stop you from getting to work, resulting in lost wages and, potentially, job loss.
Make a Plan
- If you plan on using a substance that will result in impairment, arrange for a safe ride home ahead of time.
- If you have ingested an impairing substance such as marijuana, do not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.
- If you are drug-impaired, pass the keys to a sober driver who can safely drive you to your destination. Like drunk driving, it is essential that drug-impaired drivers refrain from driving a vehicle. It is never okay to drive while impaired by any substance.
- Do you have a friend who is about to drive while impaired by drugs? Take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely.