Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Driving

As part of a new effort to support personal and public safety, the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department aims to reduce DUIs due to marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter drugs using a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).

We all know the dangers of drunk driving, however drugged driving is on the rise around the nation, in California, as well as in Ventura County. Drugged Driving is defined as being under the influence of any drug that impairs motor skills, reaction time, and judgment while operating an automobile. Ventura County is taking the lead in California by starting conversations about driving under the influence of marijuana, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs. With funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety, the Ventura County Drugged Driving Risks and Realities Campaign is working in the community to prevent arrests, injuries, and deaths due to drugged driving.

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WEEDUI is Real

You can get a DUI for marijuana.

WEEDUI (Pronounced WEED-YOU-EYE) is driving under the influence of marijuana also known as weed. The Ventura County’s Risks and Realities Campaign aims to change social norms associated with driving under the influence of drugs. Impairment due to marijuana or in combination with alcohol can seriously hinder a person’s ability to drive a car, and we are attempting to change social norms, to get people to put down their keys and only drive sober. Perceptions about the safety of marijuana and rules pertaining to its use are currently changing around the nation. However, the California Vehicle Code is clear, that driving under the influence of impairing drugs can lead to a DUI arrest.

  • 10.3 million people reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs at least once during the past year.
  • The rate was the highest among youth adults ages 18-25 (NSDUH 2012)
  • 1 in 12 of all fatally injured drivers tested positive for marijuana.
  • 1 in 7 fatally injured drivers under age 25 tested positive for marijuana.

The Local Story

Collision data reported by Ventura County DUI Program participants shows that 10% had been using drugs, other than alcohol, on the day of their DUI arrest.

VCBH recognizes that marijuana is an intoxicant and uses local data to drive prevention efforts. The ADP prevention efforts are putting a focus on marijuana and its many negative affects, including impaired driving.

Reaching out to Parents

Did You Know?

Teens' risk of crashing is doubled after using marijuana. Talk to your teen.

In Ventura County:

  • 1 in 8 high school seniors reported that within the past two weeks, they had driven after using marijuana.
  • 1 in 4 had recently ridden in a car with such a driver. (NIH)
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 16 to 19. Teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not recognize dangerous situations. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a 2011 survey of middle and high school students showed that the number of 12th-grade students who had driven after using marijuana was 12.4 percent, other illicit drugs was 2.4 percent, and alcohol was 8.7 percent. After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often linked to drugged driving. And the reality is, teens get in twice as many crashes after using marijuana.

What is Drugged Driving?

  • The use of any drug can make it unsafe to drive a car. Drugs can impair motor skills, perception, judgment and memory. Even small amounts of some drugs may have an impact on the ability to drive.
  • Impaired driving involves all substances, not just alcohol. Youth may use alcohol, prescription medications, marijuana and a combination of these. The important thing is making sure that your teen doesn’t drive while impaired.

The #1 threat to a teen’s safety is driving or riding in a car with a teen driver.

Marijuana Impairs Driving Ability

  • Impairs motor skills, alters perception of speed and slows reaction time.
  • Risk of an accident doubles when a person drives soon after using marijuana.
  • After alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently found substance in the blood of impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers and crash victims.

Talk About It

  • Learn the facts about how marijuana impacts the teen brain. Watch for signs.
  • Write a family contract with your teen, emphasizing an agreement to not drive impaired.
  • Encourage your teen to talk about marijuana with you and review the risks. Problem solve how to avoid peer pressure to use drugs.
  • Discuss how to deal with situations that are risky and potentially dangerous. Talk about not driving with a friend who may have used marijuana or alcohol. Come up with an emergency plan together.
  • Talk about impaired driving, and the responsibility and expectations around safe driving.
  • Model appropriate behaviors for your child, including not driving impaired.
  • Teach your child that prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana and illicit drugs all impact driving.
  • Practice role playing about a social situation that they may find themselves in.

Learn More

> Read about the WEEDUI Ventura County Drugged Driving Summit.

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