Iowa law enforcement officers are being particularly watchful for impaired drivers as today’s date of April 20th or 420 is considered in some circles as a “marijuana holiday.”

Sergeant Paul Gardner, with the Iowa State Patrol in Fort Dodge, says make no mistake, marijuana is a dangerous drug. “Marijuana is still illegal in Iowa, so 420 is going to focus on drugged driving,” Gardner says. “Many people think that drugged driving is okay, which it’s not. We find that it is still the same as drunk driving, so alcohol and drugs, especially marijuana, have their own impacts on certain drivers.”

Gardner says he’s seeing an upturn in motorists being arrested in Iowa due to being impaired by marijuana, alcohol or both.  “Marijuana will slow somebody’s reaction time and judgment down, along with other things that it will cause in their behavior, and it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana,” Gardner says. “So if somebody is caught with marijuana in their system, they could face an OWI.”

The special traffic enforcement operation through the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau will run through Friday.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)