By Lou Jogmen, Chief of Police, City of Highland Park
Clinical studies have shown that marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and these studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.
Driving while impaired by any substance, including marijuana, is dangerous. And, the risk of impaired driving associated with marijuana in combination with alcohol appears to be greater than that for either by itself. Marijuana, like alcohol, negatively affects a number of skills required for safe driving, in the following ways:
As cannabis becomes easier to access and the State of Illinois considers legalization of recreational marijuana, we need to be concerned with not only the effect of marijuana legalization on our youth but on how law enforcement officers confront the challenges they face in identifying drivers who are impaired. Officers currently do not have a simple and effective way to detect drug impairment when they pull motorists over. A number of innovators are working to identify a method which would measure the level where cannabis impairment could legally be implied. Companies are developing breathalyzer-type devices that detect the concentration of THC in the breath, and some departments are already testing mouth-swabs to identify marijuana impairment.
In the meantime, departments should work to train more officers in the 16-hour, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) course. ARIDE trains law enforcement officers to observe, identify and articulate the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.
Law enforcement and safety experts need to work together in order to reduce the number of impaired driving incidents and crashes which result in serious injuries and fatalities. Public safety is of utmost importance to the City of Highland Park and our Police Department is committed to continued dialogue on this matter, education and proactive efforts for the betterment of our community.
Chief Lou Jogmen
Highland Park Police Department, City of Highland Park
CTAD Coalition Member
See this two-page fact sheet for more information on Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Illinois. The information was compiled by a consortium of nine youth-serving organizations in Northeast Illinois.