STATEWIDE, N.D. – Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) across the state are participating in a pilot program to test a mobile screening device to detect if a driver may be high, as “420” approaches.
April 20, more commonly known as “420” has become synonymous with increased recreational marijuana use and with it, the potential for more impaired drivers on the road.
DRE law enforcement officers are specially trained in recognizing if a driver is under the influence of drugs, like marijuana. North Dakota currently has no approved field device for detecting drugs in a suspected impaired driver’s system. The results of the pilot program could provide the data needed to implement an approved device by 2025.
“As illegal THC alternatives make their way into North Dakota, officers need additional tools at their disposal to determine if a driver is impaired,” said DRE state coordinator, Trooper Tarek Chase. “Vapes containing THC are low in odor, easy to transport and conceal, and are four to five times as potent as a plant, so it is critical for law enforcement to have roadside tools at their disposal.”
The device being piloted can detect the presence of Marijuana (THC), benzodiazepines, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines and opiates in the voluntary participants.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 56% of drivers involved in serious injury and fatal crashes in 2020 tested positive for at least one drug. Alcohol and drug-related crashes and fatalities are 100% preventable. Many lives would be saved in North Dakota each year if every driver consistently makes the choice to always drive sober or to designate a sober driver.
Learn more about traffic safety initiatives at VisionZero.ND.gov or join the conversation on the Vision Zero ND Facebook or Twitter page.