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June 20, 2021

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DUI patrols shift into high gear for marijuana holiday

Nationwide, collisions on April 20 resemble levels after Super Bowl

By , Columbian environment and transportation reporter

Additional state troopers and officers from local agencies will be out on the roads Saturday for statewide emphasis patrols looking for impaired drivers.

The occasion is 4/20, a “holiday” cooked up during the 1970s among the marijuana subculture.

While the date is associated with cannabis, impairment is impairment whatever a driver has been using. To prepare for a possible spike in impaired driving, officers around the state will be on patrol from 3 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday.

The last time April 20 fell on Saturday, increases in collisions nationwide resembled the levels seen after a Super Bowl, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Impaired driving, whether due to the use of alcohol or other drugs, is consistently the primary contributing factor in fatal crashes statewide.

Research from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission completed last year found, in crashes from 2008 to 2016, a combination of drugs has become the leading kind of driver impairment in fatal crashes.

Among drivers tested following fatal crashes over that period, 44 percent tested positive for two or more substances, the most common being alcohol, followed by THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The mix of the two was found to be the most common multi-drug combination.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, 25 people have been killed in suspected impaired driving crashes in Clark County from 2015 to 2018, after legal recreational marijuana sales started in summer 2014.

Columbian environment and transportation reporter