Michigan State Police: High, drugged driving against the law

Published: Dec. 3, 2019 at 5:07 PM EST
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(12/03/19) -- Michigan residents are now allowed to purchase marijuana products for recreational use.

What they're not allowed to do is get behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana.

Michigan State Police say marijuana is no different than alcohol or even certain prescription medications. They say if drivers feel funny, more than likely they're driving funny -- and that's illegal.

"Law enforcement looks at it the same way they do alcohol. If your driving is impaired and you're driving bad, too slow, too fast, weaving around the roadway, it will affect the traffic stop," said Michigan State Police Community Service Trooper Steve Kramer.

He said troopers aren't specifically trying to target drivers who may be high on marijuana.

"There's still gotta be a reason. If there's a strong odor or recently burned marijuana in the vehicle, that could be a red flag. Same thing if we see an open bottle of alcohol in the vehicle. We're going to start investigating and looking into that further," Kramer said.

He said there has been a significant uptick in drugged driving related crashes and deaths over the last few years.

"Something that people don't understand, it doesn't matter what you're impaired by. It doesn't matter if you have a prescription for it or not. If it is impairing your ability to drive that automobile, then it's still against the law," Kramer said.

Currently, any marijuana product in Michigan must be consumed in a private residence. Users can carry up to 2.5 ounces in their car.

Kramer said there are efforts under way to help combat drugged driving.

"There is a pilot program in place right now and it's throughout the state now where they can actually do a road side mouth swab," he said. "All this test is going to determine is if it's in your system or not."

Kramer said a number of other tests will be performed as well, including sobriety tests, questioning and other observations that indicate impairment.

"If they can't determine anything, we would call in what we call a DRE, or drug recognition expert," he said.

DRE's are scattered about throughout many different law enforcement agencies and go through rigorous training to recognize whether a person is impaired.

"It's not a one and done program. It's a continual basis where they have to keep up their training," Kramer said. "They have to have so many contacts, evaluations and things like that to keep up their certification."

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