Senate passes Tikoian bill requiring driver education to include dangers of driving high


STATE HOUSE — The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. David P. Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Lincoln, North Providence) that would require driver education courses to include a program about the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana.

The bill (2023-S 0667) would require an Automobile Association of America program called “Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth About Marijuana and Driving” to be added to the curriculum for driver education once it has been approved by the Board of Education.

“Since marijuana has been legalized, it’s important for us to acknowledge the ramifications of intoxication, the same way we do with alcohol,” said Senator Tikoian, a 23-year veteran of the State Police. “The danger of driving under the influence of cannabis is very real and very serious. It is imperative that our student drivers understand the tragic consequences that are possible while driving high.”

Driving under the influence of drugs appears to be a growing factor in impaired-driving crashes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The percentage of impaired weekend nighttime drivers who tested positive for the presence of marijuana rose from 8.6% in 2007 to 12.6% in 2014. While in 2013-2014, 8.3% of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for alcohol (a BAC of more than .005) and 1.5% had a BAC of .08 or higher, 22.5% had a positive drug test.

The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2023-H 5768) has been introduced by Rep. Julie Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter).


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