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Butte police expect more DUIs after marijuana legalized

Posted at 11:54 AM, Dec 30, 2021

BUTTE — Police in Butte police they’re going to see an increase in driving under the influence offenses involving marijuana once recreational use of the drug becomes legal on Jan. 1.

“I anticipate we’ll see an uptick in marijuana DUIs, you know, more readily available, people have better access to it,” Butte Police Officer Greg Blue.

It’s easier for police to determine if a motorist is under the influence of alcohol, but much more challenging to determine if drugs are involved without a blood test.

Therefore, officers are trained in drug recognition signs.

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“The human body is a gateway to tell you what kind of drug that person’s on, be it their eyes, their heart rate, their body temperature, these are all factors that we take into consideration to help us determine what kind of drug category they would be on,” said Blue.

Butte police only have two officers who are certified drug recognition experts, but they plan to train more officers — especially since police expect a spike in drug-related DUIs.

“And I’ve seen some estimates in excess in 70 percent where people may increase the DUI, because of the fact they are using marijuana before they drive,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.

Police hope that people who use marijuana, just like alcohol, will do it responsibly.

“You might have people who don’t understand the effects marijuana has on their ability to safely operate a car and they may be more prone to drive when they’ve been using marijuana even though they know or should know, it’s every bit as dangerous as alcohol,” said Lester.

Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Montana on Jan. 1.