Times-Herald

Law enforcemen­t focusing on drivers impaired by drugs

Arkansas joins five-state force in special operation to targeting impaired motorists

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Arkansas State Troopers and law enforcemen­t officers across the state will intensify their patrols next week looking for drivers who are impaired by drugs.

The special operation is part of a five-state plan directed toward the dangerous practice of driving while under the influence of both illegal and legal drugs, according to a press release from Arkansas State Police.

If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DWI, will kick off on Sunday, April 18, and continue through Tuesday, April 20. Law enforcemen­t agencies in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska are participat­ing in the coordinate­d operation to get drug-impaired drivers off the streets and highways.

“During the If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DWI effort in Arkansas, state troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies will intensify enforcemen­t of drug impaired driving laws,” said state police in the press release. “Just as drunk driving is caused by the consumptio­n of alcohol, driving while intoxicate­d by drugs is illegal in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. Officers will stop and arrest anyone they find to be impaired by drugs or alcohol.”

“It’s an erroneous presumptio­n by many that driving while high won’t diminish their judgement or ability to safely operate a motor vehicle,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Arkansas State Police Director and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representa­tive in the press release. “Studies have proven that THC, the active component of marijuana, slows the mind’s reaction time, impairs cognitive performanc­e and challenges the ability of a driver to safely hold their position inside a traffic lane.

“The simple truth is it doesn’t matter what term is used, anyone who is high, stoned, wasted or drunk, is impaired. Driving while impaired is illegal and can be deadly to the driver and others on the road,” said Bryant. “Operating any kind of vehicle while under the influence of a drug is dangerous and can lead to injury or death on the roadways.

“It doesn’t have to be an illegal substance to cause impairment, it can be medicine for a cold or a sleep aid,” Bryant continued. “Many over-thecounter and prescribed medication­s, as well as illegal substances like marijuana or cocaine, can lead to impaired driving that will result in a DWI charge against the driver. Our state troopers and law enforcemen­t partners will make no exceptions.”

Bryant said drivers should always remember to never over medicate themselves and to never drive after being prescribed a new medication until its known what effect it might have on their judgment,

(Continued from Page 1) coordinati­on and reaction time.

“While particular medication­s may not necessaril­y impair a driver, the combinatio­n of a second or third medicine or the consumptio­n of alcohol can often lead to impairment,” said Bryant. “Any form of impaired driving is illegal and can result in the arrest of a driver.

When travel is necessary and someone is impaired, there are options to get to a destinatio­n that should be considered, according to Bryant. “Ask a sober driver for help, use public transporta­tion, a rideshare service or call a friend before trying to drive while impaired,” said Bryant. “The extra time it might take could save someone’s life.”

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