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Concerns for impaired driving increase ahead of marijuana legalization in Virginia

Some police departments are concerned drivers may not use it safely or store it properly

Marijuana legalization in Virginia is raising concerns about potential traffic crashes.
Marijuana legalization in Virginia is raising concerns about potential traffic crashes.

ROANOKE, Va. – In just a matter of days, marijuana will be legal in the Commonwealth. Now, public safety officials are raising concerns about an increase in impaired driving.

“I think one of the big things out there for some people is that legalization in their mind, equal safe and that is not the case,” AAA Midatlantic Spokesperson Morgan Dean said.

Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall says there are no set guidelines to follow that could help track how impaired you may be while driving.

“It is going to affect people differently. So you may take a little bit of marijuana and become impaired. And if that happens you get behind the wheel, you are guilty of impaired driving,” Hall said.

AAA Midatlantic is also raising concerns about the change since there are no common roadside tests to detect how impaired drivers may be.

“With all of this happening in the next couple of days is that there just aren’t enough drug recognition experts out there right now,” Dean said.

Across the state, there are only about two dozen drug recognition experts who are trained to detect drivers impaired by things other than alcohol.

While three of them are in Roanoke County, Hall says overall the state may not be prepared.

“There’s not enough of that training out there to really be comfortable that law enforcement across the board is prepared to deal with us, it’s gonna take quite a while for that to catch up,” Hall said.

Across the board, public safety experts agree the best thing to do if you are planning on using marijuana once it becomes legal is to stay off the road.

If you have any questions about the upcoming legalization of marijuana, you can head over to the Ask 10 section of our website and we will work to get your questions answered.


About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.