Colorado’s Department of Transportation has kicked off its “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign to discourage driving under the influence of marijuana. The campaign includes TV commercials aimed at men ages 21 to 34, the demographic with the highest number of DUIs, reports Niraj Chokshi for The Washington Post‘s GovBeat blog. The move, which includes outreach to rental car companies and dispensary users about Colorado’s driving laws regarding marijuana, comes two months after the state began allowing the recreational use of pot, he writes.
CDOT data shows that about half of drivers involved in fatal car crashes were tested for drugs from 2006 through 2012, Chokshi writes. Of those, nearly 27% tested positive for drugs, of which 12% tested positive for marijuana, according to a CDOT news announcement. A September CDOT survey found that 21% of those surveyed said they smoked or otherwise consumed pot and drove at some point in the past month, Chokshi writes.
The state is spending $1 million on the campaign, whose ads make fun of marijuana users who can’t effectively perform everyday tasks because they space out, as Kristen Wyatt and Gene Johnson write for Associated Press with contributions from CBS4 staff. There are three ads (which you can see below). One shows a basketball player at the foul line dribbling for too long while his teammates wait for him; another ad shows a middle-aged man who does a poor job of hanging a flat-screen TV; and the third shows a man who can’t turn on his backyard grill.
Colorado began tracking marijuana-impaired driving in January, when retail sales began, and the State Patrol found 31 marijuana-impaired drivers, half of the total impaired by any drugs or alcohol, AP/CBS4 writes. Before January, all Colorado impaired-driving cases were charged under the same law.
State Patrol troopers in Colorado are teaching one another how to spot marijuana-impaired drivers, first ruling out alcohol and medical conditions before focusing on drug effects, AP/CBS4 writes. Trooper Darin Rodriguez told CBS4, “A lot of times you can’t smell the drugs, but the physical indicators as far as body temperature, as far as your heart rate, as far as your blood pressure; all of those are affected by each drug individually.”
CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford told Monte Whaley of The Denver Post that the campaign is designed to get the message out that driving while under the influence is indeed dangerous. Ford said CDOT has heard repeatedly from people who thought pot did not affect their driving ability, with some even insisting it made them better drivers. “We certainly are trying to be humorous, but we also wanted to drive home the point that it’s certainly legal to use marijuana in Colorado, but it’s not legal to get behind the wheel and drive,” Ford said.
You can see all three TV spots here: