Summer is a time for parties and picnics in the sun, but don’t let a DUI ruin your fun. Even though Washington legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, it is still illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana or alcohol.
“Specifically, we want people to know that marijuana doubles the risk of a fatal crash,” said Darrin Grondel, Traffic Safety Commission Director.
“With new retail marijuana stores in the mix, we want to remind the public that prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as illegal and recreational drugs, can impair driving ability,” Grondel said.
That is why between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1 extra officers will be on the roads in Grays Harbor and other counties looking for drivers under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs during the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Many of these officers have special training to identify when a driver is under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol.
The Aberdeen, Cosmopolis, Elma, Hoquiam, Montesano and Ocean Shores police departments, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol will participate in this Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign with the support of the Grays Harbor County Traffic Safety Task Force.
All of these extra patrols are part of Target Zero — striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.
During 2013 in Grays Harbor County, 449 people were charged with DUI.
Drivers are encouraged to find alternative transportation or ride with a sober designated driver. “More people may be using marijuana recreationally, but that should never be mixed with driving,” said Lt. Rob Sharpe, Commander of the Washington State Patrol Impaired Driving Section.
Lt. Sharpe noted that law enforcement has been arresting drugged drivers for a long time and will continue to identify and arrest drivers who make the poor choice to drive under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs.
Additionally, law enforcement reminds young drivers that impairment laws are much stricter for anyone under the age of 21. A young driver who has any marijuana in their system or a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher is considered to be driving under the influence and is at risk for arrest.