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Tulsa police officers receive additional training for recognizing marijuana-impaired drivers

Posted at 12:21 PM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 13:37:53-04

TULSA - Law enforcement is receiving even more training on how to tell if a driver is impaired, now that medical marijuana is legal in several states.

Arrests for marijuana-impaired driving have increased 20 percent across the nation since 2015.

The main message from officers and AAA is impaired is impaired and if you feel different, you will drive different.

Tulsa police officers gave a demonstration on how a traffic stop is conducted and the tests they use to spot whether a person is impaired.

With alcohol, officers can use an intoxilyzer but with any other substance such as medical marijuana, they have to rely on multiple field sobriety tests.

They check eye movement, looking for any involuntary jerking in the eyes.

Officer Micheal Snyder said they come in contact with impaired drivers every day and the signs are obvious.

"It’s very hard for someone who is under the influence of something to divide their attention," said Officer Snyder with the Tulsa Police Department. "So, they can be focused on their steering and their driving, well they’re not focused on their speed. So, they’re speeding up and slowing down and then they’re trying to focus on their speed and speedometer, then they start swerving over the lines."

Mark Madeja with AAA said they want people to stay away from the wheel and to make plans in advance if they’re going to use any type of substance.

"THC works differently in the system. My impairment may not be somebody else’s impairment, but impaired is impaired," said Madeja.

AAA recently conducted a survey which reveals that nearly 70 percent of Americans don’t believe they will be caught by officers while high from marijuana.

They estimated that 14.8 million Americans reported driving within just an hour of using marijuana.

The main concern for law enforcement is your safety.

If they have to pull you over and take you to jail to make sure you get home safe, then that’s what they will do.

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