Hochul announces drug-impaired driving prevention & enforcement campaign on 4/20
√ Governor's Traffic Safety Committee trains officers to identify impairment related to drugs and alcohol
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced New York State police and local law enforcement will be stepping up patrols and targeting drug-impaired driving during an enforcement and prevention campaign on April 20.
"Drug-impaired driving is a reckless, dangerous choice that puts everyone on our roadways at risk," Hochul said. "To avoid the deadly consequences, do not get behind the wheel and always make sure to have a travel plan to get home safely."
The State Police, Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee remind motorists that driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, including cannabis, is not only dangerous, it is illegal in New York state.
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) administers the drug recognition experts (DRE) training program, which trains officers to recognize impairment and drivers under the influence of drugs. The GTSC held six DRE trainings in 2022, adding 99 additional DRE officers, bringing the total to 432 statewide, including 134 State Troopers. GTSC's goal is to raise the total number of trained officers statewide to 550 by the end of 2023.
Additionally, every State Trooper is required to attend advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement (ARIDE) training, which is not as extensive as DRE training, but provides members of law enforcement with additional skills to observe, identify and articulate the signs of impairment related to drugs and alcohol. Statewide, 749 police officers have completed the ARIDE training. Both advanced training courses are offered by the GTSC.
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said, "Drug-impaired driving causes thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Unfortunately, few people recognize the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. Even if you feel fine, do not get behind the wheel. The New York State Police reminds all motorists that although adult recreational use of cannabis is legal, it is still illegal to drive while impaired."
Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and GTSC Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "Impaired driving is 100% preventable. While adult use cannabis is legal, driving under the influence of it, is not. Getting behind the wheel after using cannabis can slow your reaction time, impair coordination and your ability to make quick decisions, thereby putting yourself, your passengers and other motorists at risk. The consequences could be deadly. If you're consuming cannabis, don't drive high. Have a plan to stay off the roadways."
Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said, "It's simple: Don't drive after consuming cannabis. It was dangerous and against the law before cannabis was legalized in New York state, and it's still dangerous and against the law today."
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 impaired from alcohol or cannabis use:
√ If you're planning to consume cannabis, do not drive. Designate a sober driver who won't be consuming or use public transportation or a ride-sharing service. Someone who's high shouldn't be making decisions about driving; that's why planning is key.
√ According to NHTSA, between 2009 and 2018, of those drivers killed in crashes and tested, the presence of cannabis 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 high won't affect you, you are wrong: It has been shown that cannabis 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
√ An impaired driving charge could set you back $10,000 in attorney's fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, towing fees, 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.
Have a Safe Travel Plan
√ If you have ingested an impairing substance such as cannabis, 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 OK 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. Don't worry about offending someone – they'll thank you later.