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Drunk Drivers Not The Only Ones Feeling The ‘Heat’

DENVER (CBS4) – The heat is on this holiday weekend. Police across Colorado are cracking down on impaired drivers. This year they’re looking not only for drunk drivers, but also drivers under the influence of marijuana.

Police have already made hundreds of arrests this weekend. So far the flashing lights seen at DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols have resulted in 730 people being arrested for impaired driving. Officers say more and more of those DUIs include people high on drugs, which isn’t as easy to detect behind the wheel.

“We’re seeing a lot more people doing drugs, marijuana and cocaine,” Cpl. Heath Griscavage with the Colorado State Patrol said.

Campaign posters even aim at drivers who are legally allowed to be medicated by a prescription. Sgt. Jim Gerhardt with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association says even with a prescription, impairment is illegal behind the wheel.

“What medical marijuana has shown us is that when we open the door and allow for it, we have these bad consequences,” Gerhardt said.

The recent campaign says those who drive impaired by drugs, even if they have a prescription or medical marijuana card, will be arrested for DUI.

The Colorado Department of Transportation says drug-impaired driving is a serious problem. From 2006 to 2010, 16 percent of all fatalities in Colorado involved drivers who tested positive for drugs.

Some medical marijuana supporters say the campaign is concerning to them. They say it’s not illegal to use your prescribed medicine and get behind the wheel.

“What is a violation of the law is to be impaired,” said Robert Corry, a medical marijuana attorney. “I’ve talked to many patients who tell me it would be unsafe for them not to drive while they’re medicated because then they’re suffering from their debilitating medical condition … many patients tell me they don’t even get a buzz from marijuana, all they get is the absence of pain.”

“The more legal, the more accessible you make something, the more then you have the negative impacts and people live in denial about that,” Gerhardt said.

The Medical Marijuana Industry Group says they support the CDOT message in the campaign and medical marijuana patients should not medicate and drive.

CDOT says the number of officers trained to spot drug impairment has significantly increased.

  • Bertha Goldfinger

    Yes, North Metro Drug Task Force has plenty of “better” more important things to do. You stoned losers using your medical cards as an excuse to be high is what is wasting the publics time. NMDTF needs to be getting rid of our drug lords but instead they have to stop and chase hippies that leave their pot and edibles for kids to get into and take it to school. There is still no proof that marijuana “cures” anything. Would everyone stop calling it MEDICINE! it’s drugs. It’s killing innocent people on the road. Heroine was also once natural!

  • YourGodIsLonely

    I’d just like to point out that if 16% of all accidents were POSSIBLY the result of ‘drug-impaired’ drivers, then 84% of accidents were caused by sober drivers. Can’t we just bust people for the traffic violations they are responsible for, regardless of their supposed ‘impairment.’ What is killing people on the road is aggressive drivers who are so wrapped up in themselves they can’t abide any other drivers on the road and are constantly swerving in and out of traffic. I wish the police would stop trying to ruin people’s lives with DUI’s over minor traffic violations.

  • David

    Gerbhardt needs a partial sex change so he can be self serving

  • John

    It is awful funny that the idiots that passed the “Medical Marijuana” law are just barely beginning to see the problems this laws causes.
    Does it REALLY surprise anyone people smoking this junk are impaired to drive?
    For the people that say it should be allowed because it is a prescription you are dead wrong.
    It is perfectly legal to drink and drive as well as long as
    A. You are not impaired
    B. You do not have an open container in the car.

    It is then reasonable to arrest people that are
    A. Impaired by marijuana while driving
    B. Have a lit joint in the car (similar to an open container correct?
    What the hell did you think was going to happen when this ridiculous law took hold?
    There is a JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL less than a block from my house in Arvada.
    They arrested an eight grade (yes eighth grade) kid last week for distributing this garbage to other students who were selling it for him.
    Oh the sweet inniocent childen (my bucket)
    Wake up America your country is going down the toilet.

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