DENVER - The state of Colorado is using humor to drive home the point that drivers who smoke marijuana will get a DUI if they drive High.
State officials with CDOT, CSP and the Governor's office, joined the members of the marijuana industry to unveil the new "Drive High Get a DUI" campaign.
The campaign includes three television ads, which poke fun at people who are high after smoking marijuana recreationally. One of the ads shows a man who is struggling to ignite his grill, only to discover that he has no propane tank attached. The ad simply says... "Grilling high is now legal. Driving to get the propane you forgot isn't."Despite the humor, state officials say history shows that the public awareness campaigns are effective.
"Programs such as "Drive High Get a DUI" will make a difference," said Andrew Freedman, Director of Marijuana Coordination for the Governor's office. "We know that it will save lives."
The ads will be broadcast in English and Spanish across the state. Marijuana industry members, who helped with the campaign, are also going to be posting print ads in their stores.
"I think most importantly we need to, as responsible vendors, be sparking that conversation that carries on outside of our stores," said Elan Nelson, Vice-Chair of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.
Stats on high driving are scarce because Colorado hasn't kept track of them until this year. In January the Colorado State Patrol issued 61 Total DUIs for alcohol and other drugs. 31 of those were for marijuana only.
That's why the state is also investing more in drug recognition training. Thursday a class of 20 new drug recognition experts graduated from the program.
"I do feel a lot more prepared after this class," said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Darrin Rodriguez. "It's just opened my eyes to a lot more of the clinical symptoms, the physiological reactions to the body."
The drug recognition experts are called in after a roadside test finds impairment. Their findings will be relied on in court, along with blood tests.
"For juries, as they see it, it's new," said CSP Lt Col. Brenda Leffler. "We're dedicated to having those experts able to testify in court so that we can ensure convictions."
Whether it's the additional training or the ads, it's an issue state officials know everyone is watching.
"The fact is that the eyes of the country are on us," said Amy Ford, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation. "We're the incubator, essentially, of what we do and how we try to make a difference in keeping our roadways safe."