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Officials Anticipate More Road Troubles After Decriminalization

"Any time the use of a substance increases, so does the abuse."

June 24, 2019 - 1:08 am

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - Last week, AAA released an eye opening study that estimates 14.8 million Americans report driving a vehicle within one hour of smoking marijuana within the last 30 days. The same report says, "nearly 70% of Americans think it’s unlikely a driver will get caught by police for driving while high on marijuana",

This information was released about the same time that the New York State legislature passed laws to further decriminalize marijuana, allowing people to possess higher amounts of the drug without the worry of being charged.

Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo believes that driving conditions could become dicier due to the new legislation.

"Any time the use of a substance increases, so does the abuse," said Rinaldo. "I think that it will increase the number of those cases where somebody is operating a vehicle under the influence."

On top of the staggering number of people who report driving under the influence of marijuana, the study also found that nearly 70-percent of Americans think it's unlikely they'll get caught by law enforcement. Rinaldo disputes that, saying police generally can tell when someone is under the influence; however, he noted that it's much more difficult and time consuming to prove it.

"It's not difficult to spot because whether you're driving high or driving under the influence of alcohol, you're driving behaviors tend to be the same," he said. "Where the difficulty comes in is, as of right now, there's no machine that somebody can blow into to tell us exactly how high they are or what type of narcotic substance they're on - it requires a blood test."

While Rinaldo believes that technology may exist in the future, he added that the blood test system requires extensive police department resources.

"Technology tends to catch up with problems, so I would envision that some time in the future there will be that machine, but as of right now, it does require a blood test," he continued. "That will tie up more police resources when an officer is investigating a driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol."

Listen to the full conversation with Rinaldo below:

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