CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - This weekend officers are facing a double threat: extra traffic for Easter and the concern some will drive high, thanks the unofficial weed holiday on April 20.
That is why safety groups and law enforcement are joining forces to help keep roads safer by spreading this simple message: “Drive High, Get a DUI."
“Number one, don’t use it anyway because it is still illegal. Number two, regardless of what you think it does impair you in some ways,” said Officer Jacob Marberry with Cape Girardeau Police Department.
Marberry says using marijuana makes it harder for you to drive your vehicle safely.
"So it's going to slow your reaction time, it's going to affect your decision making process," he said.
Marberry said that pot is one of the most common drugs himself and other officers see on the road.
“You don’t typically got to a party where the marijuana is being grown there,” Marberry said. “It has to get there somehow and a lot of people are transporting it in their vehicles and then on top of that a lot of people are then using it in their vehicles.”
Drug-impaired driving was the cause of 78 deaths and 142 serious injuries in Missouri in 2018, according to statistics from the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Rachel Penny is with Cape Girardeau Safe Communities, which is a partner of the Southeast Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, which is behind the ‘Drive High, Get a DUI’ effort.
She says the coalition’s mission is to continue reducing the fatalities and injuries cause by impaired crashes down to zero and provide more tomorrows for everyone.
"Nobody plans on having the crashes, so why would you take extra steps to hurt yourself or hurt someone else?” Penny said. “If you do cause that crash and you're not the person who gets hurt, do you want to look at the other family and say I'm sorry I killed someone?"
More officers will be on the road doing saturation patrols this weekend and will be looking for drivers who are high on drugs and driving.
"It's all about the signs of impairment and officers are all trained on how to see those signs of impairment and what those signs are," said Marberry.
And the officer says the signs of weed are easy to spot.
“If you think you can get away with smoking marijuana, you are horribly mistaken because it is one of the most potent and recognizable smells there is. If you are at a party 3 hours ago where somebody next to you was smoking, I guarantee I am still going to smell that marijuana on you when I approach your vehicle,” he said.
After fines and legal expenses, Marberry says a typical DWI will add up to $500 dollar on the low side.
If you plan to drink or use any type of drug your best bet is to use common sense and order a ride home or call a sober friend to pick you up.
“I’m sure you know somebody in town who is sober,” Marberry said. “If not we have CTA, we have carGO, we have other options for taxi type services that can give you a ride for a very inexpensive amount of money.”
Mayberry says prescriptions drugs like Xanax, and opioids like fentanyl and methamphetamine are also easy to overdose on and can result a DUI charge and deadly consequences if mixed with driving.