Law enforcement cracking down on drug impaired drivers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On a day often associated with marijuana, 4/20, local and state law enforcement from six states announced they’ll be cracking down on drivers under the influence of drugs.

The new campaign "Drive High, Kiss Your License Goodbye!" is a new partnership with law enforcement and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to enforce zero tolerance for drug-impaired driving.

In many states across the country, there’s been an increase in deadly traffic crashes involving drugs like marijuana. 

Now, several states including Kansas and Missouri are increasing efforts to get drug-impaired drivers off of the roads.

The laws regarding marijuana use vary from state to state, but once you get behind the wheel, it doesn't matter where you are driving, it’s illegal to be under the influence of the drug.

In Missouri, there’s been a substantial increase in deadly crashes involving drivers under the influence of drugs.

“More so now than ever before,” said Sgt. Colin Stosberg with the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The most recent data available shows that more than 5 out of 20 deadly crashes or 26.4 percent in Missouri involved a driver that tested positive for cannabinoids, THC or marijuana. That’s up from 3 out of 20 or 14.6 percent in 2006.

“The thing about today’s marijuana… it’s a lot different than when I was in high school and college and even early in my career because the THC levels are reaching all-time highs,” said Stosberg.

THC is the chemical that causes most of the psychological effects of marijuana.

Deadly crashes involving drivers testing positive for THC has increased 12.2 percent since 2006.

In 2006, there was 1 deadly crash in Missouri involving a driver impaired by THC. In 2016, there were 107.

In Kansas, there’s been a decrease in the overall amount of deadly crashes involving these drugs after a sharp increase back in 2014.

When law enforcement looks for drug impairment, it often looks like alcohol impairment. Which is why there are Troopers trained specifically to see the difference.

“Drug Recognition Expert will be able to assist that officer in identifying what’s causing that impairment,” said Lt. Michael Halford, Drug Recognition Expert with the Missouri Highway Patrol.

While there are experts, they’d rather not have to use their skills.

Stosberg says if you drive under the influence of anything, you better be willing to pay.

“Right now, the going rate on a DWI is about $10,000 by the time its bought and paid for and if you find yourself in a crash… you’ll pay for it for the rest of your life is someone’s injured or killed,” said Stosberg.

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