Speeches and Presentations

Press Conference Comments on Drug-Impaired Driving

Heidi R. King, Deputy Administrator of NHTSA

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 | Denver, CO

Today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration joins law enforcement, state agency officials, and safety partners in the State of Colorado to roll out a new safety campaign to reduce the deaths and injuries associated with drug-impaired driving on our roadways.

Across the United States, a new and deadly risk is on the rise on our streets and highways. 

Drug-impaired driving has emerged as a risk to the safety of our children, our families, friends and neighbors as we travel each day to work and school. The increased availability of marijuana products, and increased use of opioids, as well as the use of illicit drugs like methamphetamines and the use of pharmaceutical products, all contribute to this deadly risk. Impairment is impairment, whether from alcohol, illicit drugs, medicine, or weed. It is dangerous, it is illegal, and it will be prosecuted. 

Some drivers are mistaken in the belief that it’s ok to drive when they are under the influence of drugs. The science says otherwise. Many drugs reduce a driver’s ability to process complex information, slow reaction times and impair judgment. Impairment is impairment, and it doesn’t matter whether it is caused by alcohol, drugs, or a combination; a driver who is cognitively impaired presents a safety risk on our roadways. Some drivers are mistaken in the belief that drug-impaired driving can’t be detected or prosecuted--that they won’t get caught. That’s wrong. Across the nation, law enforcement officers are trained to identify impairment by drugs that makes it dangerous to operate a vehicle. Driving while impaired by any substance is against the law in all 50 states, and throughout Colorado.

NHTSA is making drug-impaired driving a top priority to ensure U.S. roads, communities and families are safe from impaired drivers.

I’d like to recognize the State of Colorado, under the leadership of Governor Hickenlooper, the Department of Public Safety, CDOT, the State Patrol, and the Colorado Task Force on Drunk and Impaired Driving for their leadership in reducing drug-impaired driving.  

Colorado has worked hard to:

  • Create public education campaigns
  • Enforce DUI laws 
  • Collect consistent data on drug-impaired driving
  • Work with the criminal justice community to prosecute drug-impaired-driving cases

State efforts, led by Governor Hickenlooper and his cabinet, show how powerful state leadership is, and showcase Colorado’s commitment to preventing impaired driving.

Everyone here encourages Coloradans to plan ahead, never drive under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, and remember: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.