Volunteers drink, smoke pot, text & drive in front of sheriff's deputies for study

For Adams County Driver Impairment Awareness Day

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- As the state of Colorado and other communities all over the United States work to manage legal cannabis, local law enforcement officers are learning new ways to watch out for different types of impaired driving.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office and Dacorum Strategies partnered to present a Driver Impairment Awareness Day on Monday at the Adams County Sheriff’s FLATROCK Regional Training Center. Organizers utilized onsite consumption of either marijuana or alcohol and an actual driving test to educate consumers around the risk of driving drunk, high or distracted.

Adams County Sheriff deputies observed the closed safety course exercise to learn firsthand about the differences each impairment causes in driver capabilities.

“We kind of get complacent,” said Todd Mitchem, CEO of Dacorum Strategies and study organizer. "Cars feel a lot safer, everything feels safer, and that complacency kicks in, and that’s when people can get hurt.”

Through the course of the study, participants went through field sobriety tests and got out to drive the course multiple times. Each round, observers took down notes on how many cones were hit and how the drivers dealt with the challenges.

“You haven’t seen some of the moving obstacles which you would suspect because that is real life, but they make the course challenging enough that it kind of mimics real-world scenarios of where you have to do a hairpin turn,” said study participant Danny Schaefer.

Cameras were inside the driving test cars pointed at the drivers. That footage will be used in training exercises for sheriff’s deputies as well as teen driving courses.

“Photos and video have a powerful message and being able to do that inside the car, outside the car with a field sobriety, I am hoping that education piece especially for our new drivers,” said Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh. “They are going to be behind the wheel soon, so for this to be utilized in an educational sense.”

Organizers hope the study is also an eye-opener to the participants about how much substances can impact their reaction time and decision-making abilities.

Paramedics were on scene for the study in case anyone became too intoxicated. The volunteers also took Lyft rides to and from the study.

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