“You should never drive while high,” stated an announcement from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office that described stepped-up patrols in Goleta for Friday and Saturday nights. With commercial marijuana sales becoming legal January 1 — though no recreational pot shops have been approved in the city — the Sheriff’s Office is making the point that driving under the influence includes marijuana and prescription drugs.
It’s taken more than 35 years to convince drivers that drinking and driving are dangerous, said Rhonda Craft, director of the state’s Office of Traffic Safety. “We can’t afford to take that long when it comes to driving under the influence of prescription medications, marijuana,” or some over-the-counter medications.
A roadside survey in 2012 showed twice as many impaired drivers tested positive for drugs than alcohol, and studies found that drivers in fatal crashes between 2005 and 2015 were almost twice as likely to have drugs in their system rather than alcohol. In response, area law enforcement agencies have added training to recognize a drug high to their alcohol education for officers.
A Designated Driver VIP app can help New Year celebrants find bars and restaurants offering free specials to the person staying sober.