The Saline County Sheriff’s Office will join other law enforcement agencies around the Midwest, and be out in force this coming weekend of 4/20. The agency is joining other law enforcement agencies in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa and Arkansas in the extra patrols April 19th – 21st to combat what has been an “increasing epidemic for the past several years”.
All available Drug Recognition Expert and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driver Enforcement officers will be out in force in an effort to remove the danger of driving while impaired.
April 20th, or 4/20, is a date when marijuana advocates tend to smoke more marijuana than usual. 420, 4:20, or 4/20 is a code-term in cannabis culture that refers to the consumption of cannabis, especially smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m. and smoking cannabis in celebration on the date April 20th.
The Journal of American Medicine Association has found a 12 percent increase in the relative risk of a fatal crash on this day compared to identical time intervals on control days.
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, a 2016 AAA poll in Kansas indicated 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.