Crime & Courts

Kansas police to patrol 4/20 pot holiday: ‘Impaired driving is not a victimless crime’

What to do if you are stopped by police

The Wichita Police Department offers advice to residents for what to do when you are stopped by a police officer. (Video courtesy of Wichita Police Department)
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The Wichita Police Department offers advice to residents for what to do when you are stopped by a police officer. (Video courtesy of Wichita Police Department)

Law enforcement agencies across Kansas will patrol for impaired drivers on the 4/20 marijuana holiday weekend.

The Kansas Department of Transportation said the special campaign against drugged driving will include increased traffic enforcement and police visibility April 19-20 — or Friday and Saturday. April 20, or 4/20, or 420, is the stoner holiday when some people tend to smoke or consume more marijuana than usual.

“There’s a misconception that marijuana doesn’t affect your ability to drive,” said Chris Bortz, KDOT traffic safety program manager, in a news release. “That is just false. Illegal drugs can impair a person’s judgment, concentration and reaction time. Driving under the influence of any impairing substance is illegal for a reason.”

The transportation department said 287 crashes were attributed to illegal drug use in Kansas in 2017. Those crashes led to 83 deaths.

“Law enforcement and prosecutors will also be enforcing a ‘No Refusal Weekend’ in which all suspected impaired drivers who refuse a breath test may be subject to blood testing,” KDOT said. “Officers will be extra vigilant this weekend to detect all impaired drivers and consequently testing for both alcohol and drugs.”

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said the special campaign against impaired driving will involve officers from Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

“This has been an increasing epidemic for the past several years ... Impaired driving is not a victimless crime,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

In addition to impaired driving, police, deputies and other law enforcement officers will issue tickets to traffic law violators. The sheriff’s office specifically listed speeding, texting and not wearing a seat belt among other violations they will watch for.

“Even one death is unacceptable,” Sheriff Jeff Easter said in the release. “Please don’t drive while impaired, slow down, put the phone away or turn it off, and always buckle up.”

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