Dry January: A sobering perspective on safe choices

Traffic Safety Pulse News

As the new year rolls in, so does the tradition of Dry January — a commitment to avoid alcohol for the month. This personal challenge has gained traction over the years, promoting a healthier start to the new year. Many Coloradans partake in Dry January — some of them turning to cannabis as an alternative during this time thanks to the legality in our state.

A pot leaf, marijuana bunches and a rolled join all sit on top of a coffee table book.

While the choice to consume cannabis is legal, it's crucial to note the importance of responsible consumption, especially when it comes to impaired driving. No matter the substance, driving under the influence is never safe. The effects of impairment can be just as dangerous whether it's from alcohol or marijuana.

As safety advocates, we’re here to remind you that whether you’re drinking, smoking or combining the two, consider the following tips to ensure everyone on Colorado roadways makes it home safe.

1. Enjoy Time at Home: With the holidays officially behind us, we can all admit we need some downtime. If you choose to consume cannabis over alcohol this month, why not make a cozy night at home out of it? After all, if you feel different, you drive different!

2. Plan Ahead: Social plans calling? Make sure you plan a safe and sober ride home if you’ll be consuming cannabis or other impairing substances. Call a friend, book a rideshare or use public transit options to avoid driving impaired.

3. Know the Effects: Cannabis impacts both behavioral and physiological functions in your body. Consumption of cannabis products can cause effects that impact your driving, such as:

  • Lack of concentration, decision-making abilities and problem solving.
  • Decreased ability to perform divided attention tasks (such as changing lanes or braking for sudden traffic).
  • Altered perception of time and distance.
  • Relaxed inhibitions.
  • Slowed reaction time.

4. Know the Impacts: Driving under the influence of cannabis puts you, your loved ones and other roadway users at risk — in 2022, 278 roadway fatalities in Colorado were attributed to impaired driving. Additionally, you can receive a DUI for driving under the influence of cannabis – which is costlier than you think. The average cost of a DUI in Colorado can reach or exceed $13,500. Play it safe and leave the driving to the sober.

We know it might seem nice to relax with something different during Dry January but being safe is what matters most. Remember, whether you’re drinking or using cannabis, it's never OK to drive if you’re impaired. Please make smart choices, stay safe and help others do the same.

For more tips on staying safe, check out our resources page linked here.