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Police concerned about high drivers as recreational marijuana sales begin

By Christian Colón, Marcy Jones and Rob Polansky

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    HARTFORD, Connecticut (WFSB) — Driving while high is still considered driving under the influence, according to law enforcement officials in Connecticut.

Police have been trying to get this message out to drivers ahead of Tuesday when recreational marijuana sales begin in the state.

They said they were concerned about the potential increase in crashes that may involve impaired drivers.

While they said they are used to dealing with drunk drivers, they said dealing with drivers who have used pot is more complicated.

Neil Dryfe, the president of Connecticut’s Police Chief Association, said officers can check a driver’s blood-alcohol level if they are drunk.

However, he said if someone is driving high, there is no way to test for marijuana use. Dryfe also said there is no legal limit for marijuana, unlike alcohol.

Corporal Kevin Geraci is one of 62 drug recognition experts in Connecticut. He said there are a few ways to recognize if someone is high.

“We see a lot of impaired memory, so that is going to play a big factor. If you do not remember where to turn or remember what the speed limit is. There is also an impaired perception of time and distance,” Geraci said.

A few officers might have some training in detecting marijuana use, but the training is not as extensive. There is also not a recognition expert in every police department.

Dryfe said officers needed more training on detecting impairment, but urged drivers to follow the law.

“It is still illegal to operate a motor vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol and or drugs. That has not changed for law enforcement,” said state police spokesperson Christine Jeltema.

If anyone witnesses reckless driving, police urged them to call 911.

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