New $5M campaign warns Floridians about driving while high

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Most of us have likely seen a PSA or two about the dangers of drunk driving, but now we’ll start seeing new ads warning people about driving while high.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles just launched the “Drive Baked, Get Busted” campaign, a brand new $5 million initiative intended to discourage people from getting behind the wheel after they have smoked or consumed marijuana.

It might go without saying, but the budding campaign serves as a reminder to people that they can be arrested for driving while “baked,” as they could if they’re intoxicated because of alcohol or any other illegal substance.

Drivers who spoke with News4Jax said they support the message authorities are sending. They said it doesn't matter what substance someone has taken -- driving under the influence of anything is still driving under the influence, which is against the law.

"We have to be more aware and we have to use it the same way we did campaigns for drunk drivers," said Aldina Sousa. "We have to be as strong for the ones using marijuana or any other kind of drugs."

The campaign has begun cropping up in television spots and radio ads broadcast throughout the state, as well as on billboards, including here in Jacksonville. A television ad released Wednesday depicts a driver behind the wheel, putting others in his car and those in other cars as well as a cyclist at risk.

The campaign, which targets drivers ages 18 to 34 as well as those ages 55 to 74, is designed to underscore the “negative consequences for marijuana-impaired driving in a memorable and conversational way to create true behavior change," according to the agency.

As part of the effort, law enforcement agencies will begin collecting data for positive drug test results during crash investigations. Those data will help authorities determine how often drug use plays a role in crashes and traffic offenses.

Criminal defense attorney Mitch Stone, said the roadside tests used would likely be similar to those used for DUIs, except it would be a urine test instead of a breathalyzer. He said the challenge will be proving when the marijuana was used because it can stay in someone's system for weeks.

"There's been discussions about using the fluids in the eye, discussions about hair, breath, saliva," he explained. "All of these tests are trying to be developed, but none of them have been able to make a determination that somebody has recently consumed and, therefore, should be prosecuted for it."

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