CASTLE ROCK - Corp. Darrel Salberg admits the state has had more than a few years to get used to the idea of people driving while high on marijuana, but the Colorado State Patrol officer knows now isn't the time to stop worrying about it.
He's one of roughly 200 Drug Recognition Experts in the state. Thursday, after a new class of DRE's graduate, there will be twenty more.
"We're not very fun at parties, I tell you that," joked Corp. Salberg when 9Wants to Know joined him for a day of patrols.
Since the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012, the state has scrambled to figure out ways to convince drivers not to drive high. Thursday, the Colorado Department of Transportation will unveil its new "Drive High, Get a DUI" campaign right around the time the new DRE's get certified to spot drugged drivers on the road.
"We just want to be prepared in case people make the choice and choose to drive with marijuana in their systems," said Glenn Davis, CDOT's highway safety manager. "As we encounter impaired drivers, we'll be able to get an expert to do the analysis."
Trooper JJ Wolff is the DRE course manager for the Colorado State Patrol. "My family is driving the highways, your family is driving these highways, and basically our main focus is traffic safety," he said. "When I first started the drug evaluation and classification program in 2002, I was the only DRE in El Paso and Teller counties. Today we have almost 20 trained officers in that area."
There were sixty CSP citations for drivers suspected of using marijuana in January. That number represents close to 15 percent of total DUI's.