No matter the substance, impaired driving is illegal

TOPEKA – Marijuana laws are changing constantly across the country. One thing that hasn’t changed is the legalities behind impaired driving.

To help keep drug-impaired drivers off the roads, the Kansas Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration remind all drivers of the safety message: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.

“Many people don’t realize it can be just as dangerous to drive while using certain drugs or substances as it is alcohol,” said Gary Herman, KDOT Behavioral Safety Manager. “Marijuana, antianxiety medications, painkillers and muscle relaxants are just a few of many substances that can seriously impact one’s reaction times and ability to drive safely.”

April 20 each year marks the unofficial marijuana “holiday,” which tends to see an increase in its use. But whether a person uses marijuana or another substance, they should never drive afterwards as driving under the influence penalties are not limited to defined alcohol concentrations. According to Kansas law, a person is driving under the influence if operating any vehicle while under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle.

“Give your keys to a sober driver if you find yourself drug-impaired, and never get in the vehicle with an impaired driver,” Herman said. “If you have a friend or loved one who is impaired, step in and help them get home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone – they’ll thank you later.”

More information is available on the traffic safety campaign If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Visit NHTSA’s website at

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