Young drivers focus of new CDOT cannabis campaign

News Release

June 7, 2023 - Statewide Traffic Safety - Collaboration reaches teens at DMV locations, driving schools

Statewide—The Colorado Department of Transportation has rolled out a new young driver education effort focused on the dangers of cannabis-impaired driving. In a collaborative effort, CDOT worked with the Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and certified driving schools throughout Colorado to develop the new initiative.

Colorado law prohibits non-medical cannabis use by anyone younger than 21 years-old. However, findings from the 2021 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey indicate 40 percent of teens say it would be easy for them to get marijuana, and about 1 in 10 have either driven a vehicle after consuming marijuana or been a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had been using marijuana. Click here to learn more about the 2021 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey

The new “Drive High, Get A DUI” young driver initiative focuses on providing drivers ages 15-20 with information on how cannabis-impaired driving can result in a DUI and how a DUI can result in severe consequences for a young person. These messages are featured on a variety of materials that will initially be displayed at more than a dozen Colorado DMV driver license offices, and integrated into young driver education programs at various certified driving schools in Colorado.

“Drivers in their 20s consistently have some of the highest rates of DUIs in Colorado,” said Sam Cole, Traffic Safety Communications Manager at CDOT. “Addressing that trend starts in driving schools and other young driver education programs. Today’s teen drivers will be tomorrow’s young adults and we want to be sure they have clear and complete information to make responsible decisions on our roadways.”

“Many drivers may think of a DUI in terms of the law enforcement and legal consequences,” said Electra Bustle, DMV Senior Director. “It’s especially important for young drivers to understand that cannabis-impaired driving can result in their driving privileges being revoked, possibly for extended periods, which can negatively affect their lives.”

For more information on DUI rates in Colorado, click here.

The new effort specifically focuses on helping young drivers better understand the variety of consequences that come with a DUI. This goes beyond an arrest and possible jail time to include the suspension or revocation of a driver license, community service, and a variety of fines and other costs that may be required to eventually have driving privileges reinstated.

“We get a good amount of questions from students about the impact cannabis can have on driving,” said John Anderson, Executive Director of the Colorado State Patrol Family Foundation which offers driver safety education programs throughout Colorado. “We want to share the facts with them, not only about how cannabis can impact their driving, but how it can result in a DUI and what exactly that could mean for their lives.”

The teen-focused effort includes banners and signage that will be displayed in both Colorado driver license offices and driving school locations throughout the state, as well as digital and printed materials that can be incorporated into driving education courses.