Arkansas law enforcement taking part in five-state initiative to reduce impaired driving

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Arkansas State Police say they, along with law enforcement officers across the state, will intensify their patrols next week and look for drivers who are impaired by drugs.

According to state police, the operation is part of a five-state plan directed toward the dangerous practice of driving under the influence of drugs, both legal and illegal.

The effort called, “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DWI” will start Sunday, April 18 and continue through Tuesday, April 20.

In addition to Arkansas law enforcement, agencies in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska are participating in the operation.

State police say during this time, state troopers, police officers and sheriff’s deputies will intensify enforcement of drug-impaired driving laws, and officers will stop and arrest anyone they find to be impaired by drugs or alcohol.

It is illegal in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. to drive while intoxicated by drugs.

According to state police, it is wrongly presumed that driving while high won’t impact a driver’s judgment or ability to drive safely. Studies have proven THC, the active component of marijuana slows the mind’s reaction time, impairs cognitive performance and challenges a driver’s ability to safely stay inside a traffic lane.

Officials say in a news release sent Wednesday, “The simple truth is it doesn’t matter what term is used, anyone who is high, stoned, wasted, or drunk is impaired.”

Driving while impaired can be deadly to the driver and others on the road.

“Operating any kind of vehicle while under the influence of a drug is dangerous and can lead to injury or death on the roadways,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Arkansas State Police Director and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “It doesn’t have to be an illegal substance to cause impairment, it can be medicine for a cold or a sleep aid.“Many over the counter and prescribed medications, as well as illegal substances like marijuana or cocaine, can lead to impaired driving that will result in a DWI charge against the driver. Our state troopers and law enforcement partners will make no exceptions.”

State police say drivers should remember to never over medicate or get behind the wheel after being prescribed a new medication until it’s known what effect it might have on their judgment, coordination and reaction time. Authorities also say a combination of medications or drinking alcohol can often lead to impairment.

If someone is impaired, officials say they should ask for a ride, use public transportation or ride-share service.

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