General Assembly passes bill requiring driver education to include dangers of driving high


STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed legislation introduced by Sen. David P. Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Lincoln, North Providence) and Rep. Julie Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) that would require driver education courses to include a program about the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana.

The bill (2023-S 0667A, 2023-H 5768A) would require curriculum related to the dangers of marijuana-impaired driving such as the course provided by the Automobile Association of America be added to 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.

“This is critically important now that the recreational use of cannabis is legal,” said Representative Casimiro. “We have to teach our young people about the hazards of driving impaired while using marijuana to keep them and our roads safe. The courses available will teach students not only about the hazards, but about making sound decisions ahead of time, such as the use of designated drivers and transportation alternatives.”