(Courtesy of the Kansas Department of Transportation)
TOPEKA, Kan. — According to a 2016 AAA poll in Kansas, only 63 percent of people consider driving after using marijuana ‘a very serious threat’ to their personal safety. In 2017, there were 287 crashes attributed to illegal drug use in Kansas. Eighty-three persons lost their lives in these crashes.
“There’s a misconception that marijuana doesn’t affect your ability to drive,” said Chris Bortz, Traffic Safety Program Manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). “That is just false. Illegal drugs can impair a person’s judgment, concentration and reaction time. Driving under the influence of any impairing substance is illegal for a reason.”
There will be increased traffic enforcement and police visibility across the state to crack down on drugged driving. This enforcement will run from April 19-21, where 420 (April 20th) is largely recognized for its social attention on marijuana.
Law enforcement and prosecutors will also be enforcing a “No Refusal Weekend” in which all suspected impaired drivers who refuse a breath test may be subject to blood testing. Officers will be extra vigilant this weekend to detect all impaired drivers and consequently testing for both alcohol and drugs.
Marijuana laws are rapidly changing across the United States, including states bordering Kansas, leading to more drivers under the influence of marijuana. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2007-2014, there was a 48 percent increase in drivers testing positive for marijuana across the nation. These findings demonstrate the imminent danger on our roads and the importance of raising awareness of the risks of drug impaired driving.
“With this enforcement and our education efforts, we hope that 100 percent of Kansas drivers recognize and understand this serious issue,” said Mark A. Dupree, Wyandotte County District Attorney. “Driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous and deadly. We want people to arrive to their destinations safely, and that starts with smart decisions by both drivers and passengers.”
Drug impaired driving does lead to crashes, serious injury and even death. Kansans will see law enforcement agencies out in full force this weekend, pulling over drivers that exhibit signs of impaired driving due to drugs or alcohol.