Law enforcement steps up traffic efforts this weekend

Kansas law enforcement officers will step up their traffic efforts this weekend.

Not only is it a religious holiday, Easter weekend, plus Passover starting on Saturday, it also is 4/20 weekend, a reference from the drug culture to April 20 as “Marijuana Day.”

According to a news release from the Kansas Department of Transportation, law enforcement officers will be actively looking for impaired drivers this weekend.

“There’s a misconception that marijuana doesn’t affect your ability to drive,” said Chris Bortz, traffic safety program manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), in a news release. “That is just false. Illegal drugs can impair a person’s judgment, concentration and reaction time. Driving under the influence of any impairing substance is illegal for a reason.”

KDOT cited a 2016 AAA poll in Kansas that only 63 percent of people considered driving after using marijuana “a very serious threat” to their personal safety.

Kansas has reported 287 crashes attributed to illegal drug use in 2017, and 83 fatalities as a result of these crashes, according to KDOT.

The increased enforcement will run from April 19-21, according to a spokesman.

Law enforcement and prosecutors will also be enforcing a “No Refusal Weekend” in which all suspected impaired drivers who refuse a breath test may be subject to blood testing, according to the KDOT spokesman. Officers will be extra vigilant this weekend to detect all impaired drivers and test for both alcohol and drugs.

Marijuana laws are rapidly changing across the United States, including states bordering Kansas, leading to more drivers under the influence of marijuana, the spokesman stated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2007 to 2014, there was a 48 percent increase in drivers testing positive for marijuana across the nation. These findings demonstrate the imminent danger on our roads and the importance of raising awareness of the risks of drug impaired driving, the spokesman stated.

“With this enforcement and our education efforts, we hope that 100 percent of Kansas drivers recognize and understand this serious issue,” said Mark A. Dupree, Wyandotte County District Attorney, in the KDOT news release. “Driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous and deadly. We want people to arrive to their destinations safely, and that starts with smart decisions by both drivers and passengers.”

Drug-impaired driving leads to crashes, serious injury and even death, according to the KDOT spokesman. Kansans will see law enforcement agencies out in full force this weekend, pulling over drivers that exhibit signs of impaired driving due to drugs or alcohol.

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