DENVER (CBS4) – The federal government has given Colorado new funding to help recognize stoned drivers and keep them off the road.
On Saturday a driver believed to be under the influence of marijuana hit two Colorado State Patrol cruisers on Interstate 76. The officers were pulled over and investigating another crash.
Right now the state has 185 officers specially trained to recognize drivers under the influence of drugs. Officials hope to add another 35 officers and develop an advertising campaign aimed at preventing driving while high.
This is all being made possible with a $400,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Emily Wilfong says the money will pay for public awareness messages on posters and on TV, specifically targeting males aged 18 through 24.
“Those individuals are likely the ones that might be using it recreationally, might not know DUI laws and may be out on our roads,” said Wilfong.
Wilfong said that in 2012 marijuana was a factor in more than 1000 Colorado DUI cases.
The ads will start in March and are already getting mixed reviews.
“I think if you’re gonna have legal pot, it’s a good thing,” said a Denver resident.
“I’m all for trying to support our school system so I think that money could be better spent there,” said Denver resident Priscilla Montoya.
Attorney Lauren Davis supports the ads, but her issue is with the level of THC needed to be declared legally impaired, 5 nanograms. She says the level is not based on science, and can sometimes be found in people who smoked several days ago.
“The bottom line is you can be over 5 nanograms, it may not have any correlation to whether or not you’re impaired,” said Davis.
The feds want drivers to know any amount pot and driving is a bad combination.
“If you partake, be responsible and stay off the roads,” said Wilfong.