On July 8th, Deb Greene, a 65-year old grandmother, walked into the store Cannabis City and legally purchased two bags of marijuana.  The purchases are significant for they mark the first bags of marijuana legally sold for recreational purposes in Seattle.  Yes, a march that started as Washington Initiative 502 is finally coming to fruition and the legal sale of marijuana is well underway in the greater King County area.

Despite your specific stance on this issue, the legal sale of marijuana is now producing a myriad of issues that Seattle must come to grips with in the name of safety, protection and responsibility.  One such issue involves driving an automobile while high, or under the influence of marijuana (an act that is entirely illegal).  To help combat this issue, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) recently released three videos all with the theme of “Drive High, Get a DUI.”  We want to discuss this campaign and we’re interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.  Will the commercials really deter the illegal act of driving while high?

The “Drive High, Get a DUI” Campaign

The videos in question all depict marijuana users under the influence.  In one video, we see a smoker attempting to shoot a free throw.  In a second, we see a very happy male trying to mount a flat screen television; and in a third, we see a stoned guy trying to cook food on a gas powered grill that is missing a propane tank.  How about if we take a quick look at our master barbequer?

As the video depicts, grilling while high is now legal in Seattle and the State of Washington.  The same holds true for playing basketball and hanging television sets.  However, as the video also conveys, driving while high is not legal.  The three videos have already been released on YouTube and they will be running on Washington television channels.

Washington’s “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign was actually borrowed from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDT).  CDT produced the commercials and aired them in Colorado earlier this year.  Their effectiveness in Colorado is still being studied.

The Reality of the Campaign

No matter if you’re a fan of the videos or not, they do convey a very important message.  That being, driving while high in the State of Washington is illegal and it could easily lead to a DUI charge.  A motorist in Washington can be stopped and arrested for DUI if the motorist is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

Further, a DUI is a very serious offense.  It can also carry very harsh consequences, such as fines, possible jail time, and the suspension of a driver’s privileges to operate a vehicle.  If a person is arrested for or convicted of a DUI, he will face both criminal penalties in court and administrative penalties with the Washington Department of Licensing.

Add to this the very important fact that motorists driving while high impose a severe safety risk to other motorists.  An impaired driver can cause irreparable damage to another driver’s auto and physical well-being.  Driving while high can even result in the death of innocent motorists.

The Effectiveness of the Campaign

The “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign has received mixed reaction.  Some find the videos humorous.  Some declare them dull.  Others believe they present an erroneous stereotype of recreational marijuana users.  Still others question their basic ability to deter the illegal and dangerous act of driving while high.

The Phillips Law Firm is interested in hearing your comments on the videos.  While our firm knows how to successfully represent clients that have been injured in a DUI accident (whether the accident has resulted from a driver’s over-consumption of alcohol or drugs), we are still working on mastering the art of critiquing videos.  How about if you lend us some help?

Do you believe the “Drive High, Get a DUI” videos will help deter a motorist from driving stoned?  Do you find them entertaining, or just down right boring?  Do you find them offensive?  We are eager to hear your thoughts.