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Gazette Premium Content RAMBLIN' MAN: You've been warned - don't drive high

By Garrison Wells Updated: January 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Used to be the mantra was don't drink and drive.

So pass?

As of Jan. 1, don't smoke and drive became the driver safety buzzwords in Colorado and Washington.

We're not talking about cigarettes.

Nor cigars.

With pipes, well, it just depends on what you pack it with.

So if that thing dangling from your lips as you drive is a joint, be wary.

The Office of Transportation Safety at the Colorado Department of Transportation has issued a warning that says impaired is impaired, whether pot or your favorite brew, as far as it is concerned.

"There are some who do not feel that marijuana can impair driving, but it does," says Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety, in a news release.

Pot, he says, "affects reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, concentration and perception of time and distance. And just like alcohol, people driving while impaired by marijuana can receive a DUI."

That's nothing new.

But the emphasis on enforcement is.

Impaired on pot is 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood.

In Colorado in 2012, there were 24,742 driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired cases filed.

Out of 23,519 evaluations, according to the state Department of Human Services, 1,045 involved marijuana.

It's also illegal to smoke weed, eat it or display pot on a public thoroughfare, the traffic safety release said. There also can't be any open containers, or those with a broken seal or any other evidence of marijuana use in the passenger area of a vehicle.

That pot brownie that you are munching on - the one dropping crumbs on the seat of your car - is evidence. Sloppy eating doesn't pay.

The sense of it all, of course, is that with the legalization of the sale of recreational pot, there's likely to be more high drivers on the road.

From what I remember about pot, (those halcyon days in Boulder at Willy Villy, not like, you know, yesterday or anything like that), if police want to detect people driving on pot, they should look for the ones driving 25 mph where the speed limit is 75.

Though I hear pot these days is a hundred million times stronger than the '80s. Tastes better, too. Well, from what I hear.

"The legalization of recreational marijuana hasn't changed the DUI law," says Col. Scott Hernandez, top gun with the Colorado State Patrol. "If you drive high, you will get a DUI."

So, you know. Don't.

OK?

Cool.

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