OCDA releases video warning against driving while high on marijuana

Orange County Sheriff's Department cautions marijuana users that smoking and driving will result in a DUID. (Courtest of OCSD)

Orange County District Attorney’s office cautions marijuana users that smoking and driving will result in a DUID. (Courtest of OCSD)

The Orange County District Attorney’s office released the second informational video in the Office of Traffic Safety’s campaign about driving while under the influence of marijuana and other prescribed drugs.

The video was focused on driving while under the influence of marijuana, more specifically driving after eating marijuana edibles. The Orange County District Attorney’s Appellate and Training Unit, through its administration of the California Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program, worked with the Office of Traffic Safety on the videos and public service announcements.

The OCDA and its affiliates put out this video in an attempt to raise awareness for the issue, hopefully preventing future accidents and injuries related to the drug.

The 36-second video titled “You Thought it was Better Than Smoking It,” shows a woman looking and speaking directly into the camera and into a mirror in different shots. She is clearly emotional, and she speaks with a disappointed and hurt tone.

The woman begins by saying, “You thought it would be acceptable, safer than smoking it. You never thought it would mess you up, let alone cause you a crash.” At this point in the video, it is unclear as to what she is specifically referring to, but it seems as though whoever she is talking to was involved in or at fault for a crash of some kind, which explains why she is so upset.

Next she asks, “It’s legal now, so you thought that meant you could drive?” It is now known that the woman is referring to the legalization of marijuana, which has been in effect since last year.

The initiative behind these public service announcements is to enforce the message that although most charges of DUI involve alcohol use, driving while under the influence of marijuana or other drugs can lead to a DUI and possible the endangerment of others while behind the wheel.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have involved in vehicle crashes, including fatal ones.

After asking the question, she then refers back to the crash, saying, “And now you’ve killed someone’s child.” The video fades into a black screen with a caption in white letters which says “Choices have consequences”. The next scene shows the same lady in an orange jumpsuit having her mugshot taken, revealing that she was the one who killed someone in the crash.

The very last part of the video features the logo for the campaign, which reads, “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze”.

Although THC can be found in the blood of drivers involved in crashes, the culpability of marijuana can vary and is hard to determine because traces of THC can be found days or even weeks after use, so the THC found could be unrelated to the incident.

Nevertheless, the use of marijuana affects and can impair judgement, reaction time, motor skills, coordination and attention, especially when behind the wheel.

Last November, California legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. A medical marijuana license or recommendation is no longer needed to be able to visit dispensaries and purchase marijuana-related products. While the legalization of marijuana will generate millions of dollars for the state and businesses, it will also undoubtedly increase the likelihood and actual number of marijuana-related crashes and incidents.

Typically when someone is pulled over for a suspected DUI, they are subjected to field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer test. Since THC is undetectable through these breathalyzer tests, a blood sample can be requested for further testing.

According to duicentral.com, the website for a local law firm, there are other roadside methods and tests being proposed to detect marijuana. It states, “The most recent of these DUI marijuana roadside tests have involved the investigating officer taking a swab of saliva from the driver’s mouth, and then using a device at the scene of the investigation to analyze the saliva for THC.”

Law enforcement officials and officers are making an increased effort to monitor and limit driving while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, and the legalization of marijuana in California has increased the need for these measures to be taken since the drug has become more accessible.

The OCDA and those behind the campaign hope to reinforce the idea that driving under the influence of alcohol or any other drug can not only criminalize you, but hurt you or others.