GLEN BURNIE, MD (July 13, 2022) – For the third straight year, the nationwide Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, also known as Responsibility.org, have awarded the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office with a grant to support the state’s efforts to prevent motor vehicle crashes involving drug-impaired drivers.
Maryland is one of five states awarded grants to fund proven and innovative countermeasures to enhance identification and treatment of alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers. The nearly $21,500 grant will help fund advanced training and skill development for Maryland law enforcement agencies to detect drivers under the influence of drugs – specifically cannabis.
“We are honored to have been selected by GHSA and Responsibility.org for the third year to continue our work in Maryland to combat drug-impaired driving,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “It’s important we equip our law enforcement partners with the training and education to properly identify drug-impaired driving to ensure those motorists are stopped before they injure or kill someone.”
Between 2016 and 2020, an average of 30 people were killed and nearly 900 injured each year in Maryland crashes involving a driver impaired by drugs – including illicit drugs and medications. From 2017 through 2021, an average of 1,430 drug-impaired driving arrests were made annually by law enforcement officers in the state. Compared to 2012 to 2016, drug arrests increased by 44% in Maryland.
The grant will fund eight Cannabis Intoxication Impaired Driving Labs, which provide officers with training in a controlled setting on the signs and symptoms of cannabis impairment. Legalization of medical cannabis in Maryland and recreational use of cannabis in neighboring Virginia makes it imperative to train officers on how to detect cannabis impaired driving. The labs will be hosted by Chesapeake Region Safety Council, Maryland State Police and Montgomery County Police Department.
Through the training, the labs work with certified medical cannabis patients on a voluntary basis and perform National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, as well as additional Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement tests. Transportation is provided to and from the lab sites to ensure participants’ safety. New this year, the Chesapeake Region Safety Council and Montgomery County Police Department labs will have select volunteers consume a controlled combination of alcohol and cannabis to help law enforcement officials understand signs of impairment involving use of more than one substance at the same time – also known as polydrug substance use.
“Drug use increased during the pandemic as people looked for ways to cope, and we know that many of these individuals are also getting behind the wheel. It’s tragic and incredibly frustrating to see impaired driving crashes – which are preventable – kill people every day,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “We’re proud to continue our longstanding partnership with Responsibility.org to again fund proven countermeasures in Maryland to advance law enforcement detection of drug-impaired drivers.”
The past two years, GHSA and Responsibility.org awarded similar grants totaling nearly $95,000 to Maryland. Learn more about the MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office’s commitment to zero deaths on Maryland roadways at ZeroDeathsMD.gov and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at zerodeathsmd.