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‘We’re going to see more crashes’: Police prepare for more marijuana based DWIs

By Angel Salcedo

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    New Mexico (KOAT) — There are also some concerns about increasing people driving under the influence once recreational marijuana is legalized. Police say, whether it’s drinking alcohol or using cannabis, impairment is impairment. If you’re caught driving after doing either, they will enforce the law all the same.

Using marijuana recreationally will be legal on April 1, but driving afterward will not be. Charles Files is an officer and a drug recognition expert, and KOAT asked him how much cannabis is too much to drive safely?

“Cannabis can impair your coordination, perception, judgment, and reaction time. It’s going to be different for everybody. Drugs offer such a huge complexity outside of alcohol because you deal with different substances and thousands of different chemicals. It just has no business behind the wheel,” Files said.

Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are making it a priority to fight drug-impaired driving. Lindsey Valdez is their executive director.

“Driving is a complicated task, you know, it’s a very dangerous activity. So really, any substance that will impair the ability to focus should not be taken,” Valdez said.

Valdez says their goal is to educate on driving under the influence.

“Designating a driver and choosing not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle really is paramount,” Valdez said.

Files said it may not be new, but it will be more frequent.

“So we’ve been dealing with it for a while, so we’ll continue doing what we’re doing. We’re going to see an increase in DWI. We’re going to see an increase of crashes.”

Albuquerque Police Department told KOAT they will be establishing DWI checkpoints this Friday to crack down on those who are driving under the influence. We reached out to APD, but they didn’t have anyone available to talk to. They did say they have several drug recognition expert officers and are prepared to train more if they start to see an increase in these cases.

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