‘Impaired is impaired is impaired,’ whether it’s alcohol or marijuana, Massachusetts official says

In a public awareness campaign on impaired driving, Massachusetts public safety officials sought to equate operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana with doing so under the influence of alcohol.

“It’s the same,” State Police Major Richard Ball said.

“You’re a danger to yourself and others and that’s what we’re trying to combat here,” he added, pointing to the possibility of someone who’s consumed marijuana having slower motor skills and experiencing changed depth perception as they get behind the wheel of a 2,000-pound vehicle.

The public awareness campaign comes as the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission sifts through applications and paperwork for retail marijuana licenses. Home-growing and gifting of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 has been legal since December 2016, and medical marijuana dispensaries have been open since June 2015.

The campaign’s 30-second ad will air on TV and online.

The campaign promotes alternative modes of transportation, including the MBTA, taxis and ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft.

Don’t drive stoned, and instead take the MBTA or use a ride-hailing app like Lyft or Uber, Massachusetts officials say

Sira Naturals CEO Michael Dundas stood with Massachusetts public safety and law enforcement officials, who are launching their own related campaign, and urged responsible usage of marijuana.

At a press conference announcing the campaign, Jennifer Queally, undersecretary for law enforcement within Gov. Charlie Baker’s public safety secretariat, reiterated the dangers of drugged driving. Earlier, she pointed to numbers saying that an average of 125 drunk or high drivers die annually in Massachusetts.

“I just want everyone to recognize that impaired is impaired is impaired, okay? Regardless of whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, other legal drugs, if you are impaired and you drive a car, it is illegal, it’s dangerous and it’s deadly, okay?” she said.

“So the effects you might feel may be different, whether you’re high or whether you’re drunk, but the impairment is no different and the law doesn’t look at it any differently,” Queally said.

Jim Borghesani, chief operating officer for Tudestr, a cannabis consulting company, called impaired driving “unacceptable, period.”

He added that it’s also “unacceptable” for state law enforcement officials for using statistics that don’t differentiate between impairment and the presence of marijuana in somebody’s system, which can last for weeks.

“True to their pattern, the Baker administration puts fear first, alarmism second and leadership third,” said Borghesani, who also sparred with Baker officials when he the spokesman for the ballot campaign legalizing marijuana in 2016.

“Massachusetts voters and drivers deserve a more deliberative approach in order to give the issue the intelligent, factual discussion it deserves,” he said in an email.

Jennifer Flanagan, a member of the Cannabis Control Commission, said consumers are responsible for understanding the effect of marijuana and alcohol on their bodies. Technology also hasn’t caught up with marijuana legalization, so something like the Breathalyzer, deployed in alleged drunk driving cases, is unavailable in drugged driving cases.

Alcohol and marijuana do have different effects, too, Flanagan said. And a person using marijuana every day will see a different level of impairment than someone trying for the first time, according to Flanagan.

“No one is trying to demonize the fact that marijuana is legal,” Flanagan said. “No one is trying to say people shouldn’t use this product. What we’re trying to say today is you need to use it responsibly.”

21 percent of Mass. residents used marijuana in the last 30 days, new study says

21 percent of Mass. residents used marijuana in the last 30 days, new study says

Among marijuana users, 34.3 percent self-reported driving under the influence, and 7.2 percent of the adult population drove while under the influence of marijuana in the last 30 days.

A former state senator from Central Massachusetts, she also acknowledged the limits of promoting the use public transit and ride-hailing apps in parts of the state that have little of either mode.

“I do recognize the fact that the further west you go, Uber is not as relevant there, they don’t have as many drivers, and that’s why planning for afterwards is so important,” she said. “Just as you would if you were going out with your friends for drinks or dinner.”

 

Truck driver charged after fatally striking Australian tourist

The allegedly drunken garbage-truck driver who killed an Australian tourist near Central Park Fridaywasn’t impaired by the alcohol he drank that day — because he ate a chicken-salad sandwich before getting behind the wheel, his lawyer argued in court Saturday.

Felipe Chairez, 44, was charged with driving while intoxicated after slamming his truck into 23-year-old Madison Jane Lyden, who was riding a rental bike just before 5 p.m. on Central Park West, police said.

Police said they found three empty beer cans inside Felipe Chairez’ sanitation truck after they stopped him at the scene of the fatal collision.

But the beers wouldn’t have affected his driving because of his lunch order that day, his lawyer claimed at Chairez’ Saturday arraignment.

“If he had a chicken salad sandwich, the alcohol may have been absorbed by the lunch he had,” said lawyer Kenneth Ware.

Chairez blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash was between .04 and .06, according to the court documents.

Lyden had veered into Chairez’ lane near West 67th Street and Central Park West after an Uber barged into her bike lane, police said. As she navigated around the livery car, Chairez slammed into her with his sanitation truck.

Chairez was stopped by police at the scene, and admitted that he drank two beers before getting in the driver’s seat, according to court documents.

He was arraigned on the misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and released on his own recognizance.

Semi driver arrested for DUI on highway

Semi driver arrested for drunken driving on U.S. 20

SPRINGVILLE — Indiana State Police say a Northwest Indiana man was intoxicated while driving a semi truck north of La Porte on Monday morning.

About 10 a.m. Monday, a La Porte County Sheriff’s deputy notified ISP of a truck driver carrying beer from a Family Express at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Ind. 39 near Springville, according to a statement from state police.

A state trooper spotted the semi westbound on U.S. and pulled it over. He found the driver, identified as 58-year-old Garry Eriks of Griffith, had alcoholic beverages in the driving compartment of the semi, police said, and he seemed to be intoxicated.

Eriks was arrested and taken to the La Porte County Jail, where he was charged with operating while intoxicated and cited for for violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Police Arrest Man Dancing in the Middle of the Road after Leading Officers on a Chase

JOPLIN, Mo- The Joplin Police Department arrested a man after he sped through a series of signal lights then stopping in the middle of the road and dancing outside his car.

According to the Departments Facebook post, the incident happened Wednesday late afternoon around 4 p.m.

An Officer was called and caught up to the suspect and stopped it.

According to the report, the vehicle stopped in the middle of the road, and the driver turned his radio “up very loud and got out and started dancing in the center of the roadway ignoring officer’s commands.”

The male suspect was taken into custody without incident. He was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated with a BAC of .10, careless driving, and other charges.

Incident Spotlight:

On August 8, 2018 at 3:54pm we received a call about a speeding car on north main that was running red lights. An officer caught up to the vehicle at 5th and Main and stopped it. The vehicle stopped quickly in the middle of the road, the driver turned his radio up very loud and got out and started dancing in the center of the roadway ignoring officer’s commands. The male was approached and taken into custody without incident. He was arrested for Driving While intoxicated with a BAC of .10, careless driving, and other charges.
Driving while impaired is no laughing matter and we are fortunate that no crashes were caused, and the male was located. We appreciate citizens calling such behaviors in so that we can act on their information. This was one of 3 DWI arrests we made yesterday evening.

After DUI, NASCAR CEO Will Be Leaving

NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France will be taking an indefinite leave of absence after being arrested for driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of oxycodone.

On Sunday evening, France was reportedly pulled over in Sag Harbor, New York after running through a stop sign. Police said that France had a blood alcohol content of 0.18, more than double New York’s 0.08 legal limit, and was in possession of oxycodone pills. He was arrested and held overnight.

France apologized on Monday, saying in a statement that he would be taking a leave of absence starting immediately to focus on his “personal affairs.” “I apologize to our fans, our industry, and my family for the impact of my actions last night,” he added.

France has served as chairman and CEO of Nascar since 2003. His uncle, Jim France, will take over his roles on an interim basis.

Brian France is the third-generation leader of NASCAR. His grandfather, Bill France, founded the company in 1948.