Students Driving High Becoming Problematic

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Students Driving High Becoming Problematic

Barbara Prevost-Nedd, Staff Writer/Social Media Editor

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Since recreational use of marijuana became legal in California, to adults 21 and over, effective Jan. 2018, the number of cited DUIs have rapidly increased. But choosing to drive while high is a crime, which can bring about major consequences.

Sgt. Jeff Hughes, with the San Diego Community College District Police Department, talked about the dangers of driving while high. Hughes stated, “the use of cannabis can impair your ability to drive safely just like drunk driving.”

Hughes also stated that drivers caught driving under the influence of drugs such as cannabis, or even painkillers, or prescription drugs, can be given a DUI. He went on to add that, “more importantly, (driving while high) can result in injury or death.”

Elijah Deason, 19 year old Business major at San Diego Mesa College, understands the dangers of driving under the influence. Deason says, “anything that can impair your ability to drive normally, you really shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a vehicle, because it’s not just your life at risk anymore, you have the chance to change someone else’ life in a negative way.”

Deason, who said he has seen the personal devastation caused by drug usage among members of his family, states further, that “nobody wants to get that call at 3:00 a.m., that their son was just killed.”

He further elaborated saying that “just beyond the consequence of a DUI, there is so much at stake and it just isn’t worth it.”

According to Shae Irving and the editors at Nolo Publishing Company, “driving a car is a privilege – and a state won’t hesitate to take it away if a driver behaves irresponsibly on the road.”

The California Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV) website states they will suspend or revoke the license of drivers who are arrested for a DUI. It also states that a first occurrence of a DUI for a driver who is 21 years of age, or older, and has a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, “will result in a four month suspension,” however for California drivers under the age of 21, the penalty is even tougher.

Drivers under 21, who “took a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) or other chemical test and results showed 0.01% BAC or more, [their] driving privilege will be suspended for a year,” states the website.

It may seem possible to drive safely even when just a little high. However, that is not supported by research. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), marijuana affects driving in many ways including, “slowing your reaction time and an inability to make decisions quickly.”

The OTS states further, “Marijuana affects the part of the brain that controls body movements, balance and coordination and can impair judgement and memory…impaired memory can affect the ability to draw from past driving experiences, especially in emergency situations.”

Drivers may also want to avoid driving high because a DUI violation is very costly. The California Highway Patrol estimates the cost of a DUI offense at approximately $13,500. These expenses include “insurance hikes, attorney and legal fees, restricted licensing, days off work to go to court, and a criminal record.”

According to the highway patrol website, “there is no safe way to drive while under the influence.” Drivers can make the following choices to not drive high: Designate a sober driver, call a cab, or stay at your home or hotel. Choosing to not drive high can save lives.

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