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MPD to Conduct Enhanced Drug Impaired Driving Enforcement

On Friday, April 20, the Maui Police Department’s Traffic Section will be conducting enhanced drug impaired driving enforcement.  The mission of this campaign is to raise awareness of the dangers of marijuana impaired driving as well the laws pertaining to drug impaired driving and gain voluntary compliance of all traffic laws in a continued effort to make the roads of Maui County safe.

“In recent years, the use of medical marijuana has become increasingly accepted across the United States including here in the State of Hawaii.  This has had an impact on the number of people who consume marijuana on a regular basis.  While we respect the laws allowing the use of medical marijuana, there are still serious concerns regarding marijuana impaired driving,” MPD said in a Monday media release.

Marijuana impaired drivers, which includes individuals driving under the influence of medicinal marijuana, are committing the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OVUII).  

When medication or a drug that is legally prescribed to you has impaired your ability to operate a motor vehicle, it is illegal for you to drive.  The primary psychoactive substance in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinal (THC).  THC is one of over 500 known compounds in the cannabis plant, including more than 80 other cannabinoids.  THC has been shown to bind with receptors in the brain causing impaired reaction time, short-term memory, diminished hand-eye coordination, loss of concentration and shortened perception of time and distance.

“We understand the current state law which support the use of marijuana for legitimate medical purposes.  However, it is very important for everyone using medicinal marijuana or any other prescribed drug to understand how these drugs cause impairment.  Whenever you are prescribed medication, it is your responsibility to ask your doctor and/or pharmacist how that specific medication may affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle,” MPD continued.

Individuals driving while impaired and/or under the influence of medicinal marijuana have the potential to cause traffic crashes and authorities say the penalties for drug/marijuana impaired driving are similar to the penalties of alcohol impaired driving.  

Hawaii State Law is clear that Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OVUII) is illegal.  Marijuana is considered an “Intoxicant” under Hawaii State Law, regardless of how that marijuana is obtained or ingested.  After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often linked to impaired driving. 

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