The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is joining State and local law enforcement agencies to remind the public about the dangers of driving impaired. April 20 is often recognized as an unofficial cannabis “celebration,” and the public is reminded that impaired driving is illegal and deadly.
This year, Connecticut and its neighboring states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont are coming together to spread the message that drug-impaired driving is dangerous and illegal. The campaign, #DriveSafelyNewEngland, was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)
“Those who plan to use cannabis on 4/20, or any day, should not drive. It’s just not true when someone says they drive better high. Cannabis slows reaction times, impairs cognitive performance, and makes it more difficult to stay in the lane,” said Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto. “We need people to use good judgment and make safe choices behind the wheel. We also need them to be good friends, take away the keys from someone about to drive impaired, and arrange a safe ride home. Don’t worry about offending anyone; you might save a life.”
“Every Trooper has seen the results of drivers operating vehicles while impaired. Those results can be tragic,” said Connecticut State Police Commanding Officer Colonel Stavros Mellekas. “Incidents of driving while impaired are completely preventable, so we ask all residents always to designate a sober driver or call for a rideshare. Be our partners in safety: Having a difficult conversation with an impaired friend or loved one who should not be behind the wheel may be the one thing that prevents a tragedy.”
“Adults 21 and older who choose to consume cannabis should do so responsibly,” said Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli. “Do not operate a vehicle under the influence of cannabis or alcohol. We also remind consumers to store cannabis products in original packaging, out of sight and out of reach of children and pets, keep a list of all cannabis products in your home, and safely dispose of unused cannabis to avoid accidental ingestion.”
The public is asked to remember these safety tips and spread the word to friends, family, and colleagues:
- If you have used an impairing substance such as cannabis, do not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. Do not get in the car if you think a driver may be impaired.
- If you are planning to use drugs, arrange for a sober driver to drive you safely to your destination. Like drunk driving, drug-impaired drivers must refrain from driving a vehicle. It is never okay to drive while impaired by any substance.
- Even over-the-counter and prescription medications can have impairing effects. Take caution before driving after using any medication.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement by dialing 911 when it is safe to do so.
Earlier this year, recreational cannabis sales became legal in Connecticut for adults over 21. However, it is essential to remember that operating a motor vehicle under the influence of cannabis is illegal and carries the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol or any other drug. A police officer can test an operator based on the odor of cannabis if, at the time, they reasonably suspect the operator is under the influence of the same.
Connecticut’s drugged driving law does not depend on a specific level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a driver’s blood. THC is the substance most responsible for cannabis’s effects. Connecticut law states that a person operating a vehicle commits the crime of DUI while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, or both.
For information on the dangers of impaired driving, visit nhtsa.gov.https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/portableplayer/?CID=1:7:3017114&videoID=2195812931871&origin=nbcconnecticut.com&fullWidth=y