Don’t forget, driving high is a DWI

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As Marijuana becomes legal in Minnesota, there’s one big message the department of public safety is pushing. “Driving high is a DWI,” will be the new slogan once marijuana is legal.

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety spoke at a press conference in regards of what people need to know before driving with cannabis.

“It’s illegal for drivers or passengers to use marijuana or any cannabis products or to have open cannabis packaging. This is similar to the laws around alcohol,” says Chief of State Patrol, Matt Langer.

He also mentioned some statistics for people who may think they have the ability to drive while under the influence. “Drugged driving-related driving while impaired (DWI) incidents on the road are increasing in Minnesota. Drugged driving accounted for 6,941 DWI incidents from 2012-2016 compared with 15,747 from 2017-2021 — that’s a 127 percent increase.”

In addition to pushing safety on roads, they’re also pushing for safe trails and waterways. “Operating a boat, off-highway vehicle (OHV) or snowmobile under the influence is one of the main factors in fatal crashes in Minnesota. Each year, about half of all fatal incidents involving boats, OHVs and snowmobiles involve impairment.”

Langer says, “impaired is impaired on the road, regardless of the substance, and the effects can be tragic for everyone else on the road.”

There is also a new project in place, the oral fluid project. “Basically, the oral fluid project is a device that officers may use at roadside to evaluate a driver and confirmed that their observations of impairment are the direct result of an impairing substance other than alcohol. This is no different than the roadside alcohol test that is used by police officers right now, which is known as a preliminary breath test.