Fresno PD traffic patrol gets ready to enforce state's marijuana law

Pot becomes legal January 1st

Next Monday marijuana becomes legal to sell in California. But Fresno Police warn that doesn't mean drivers have the green light to get behind the wheel when they're high.

Police say they're ready to deal with drivers who party too hard with pot. They say impaired driving can be a number of things besides marijuana. The department says its officers in traffic patrol have received advanced training in drug recognition.

The new challenge for law enforcement begins January first. Pot will be legal and Captain Mike Reid says some people will take a change and get behind the wheel. "If it affects your ability to safely operate a car then we can take enforcement action."

Traffic stops usually occur if an officer sees a driving swerving, speeding or even going too slow. If there are signs of impairment after the stop, such as slurred speech or droopy eyes, a field sobriety test will likely follow. Officers in traffic patrol have all attended drug recognition expert school. "We bring those people in and we do some standardized motor tests. Those motor tests give us the ability to figure out is there something preventing you from being able to operate safely?"

If you're suspected of driving under the influence of pot you have a choice of taking a blood or urine test. "An occasional user will have a measurable amount of THC in their bloodstream for about three days. A chronic user it's almost up to eight days especially in urine."

With the new marijuana law coming Captain Reid says there's always a fear that accidents in Fresno will climb. The department's message to drivers is, impairment can be anything so it's not worth the risk.

If you plan to use pot Captain Reid says use the same steps as you would with alcohol. Have a designated driver, use Uber, a taxi or public transportation.

Earlier this month Police Chief Jerry Dyer revived his controversial "bar watch" program. That's where undercover officers monitor bars and arrest suspected drunk drivers when they get into their cars.

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