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Largest driving impaired conference in nation focuses on Colorado

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DENVER -- More than 1,000 law enforcement agents, prosecutors, toxicologists and drug recognition experts converged on Denver for the 22nd annual IACP Impaired Driving Conference on Monday.

This year’s conference set a record for the highest attended event in its history. Attendees came from every state and several countries, including Canada, China, Northern Ireland and Nigeria.

The Colorado Department of Transportation was the host city organizer and took the opportunity to showcase its “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign with a smoking car displayed downtown.

“We’ve designed this to get awareness for people if they do use marijuana they know the consequences and to make a plan ahead of time,” CDOT highway safety manager Glenn Davis said.

Those inside the convention spread knowledge they hope will make the streets safer around the world. Dick Stoddard is a drug recognition expert and teaches officers how to tell if a driver is under the influence.

“It’s real important that officers go back with the attitude that we’ve got to stop or at least slow down this problem,” he said.

Stoddard also recognized the conversation about driving under the influence has taken on a different meaning in Colorado.

“Primarily here in Colorado is identifying the marijuana drivers,” he said.

According to the Colorado State Patrol, about 20 percent of DUI’s in Colorado are marijuana related.

CDOT’s “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign also serves as a warning to drivers that law enforcement is getting better at detecting impaired drivers.

“I think you’re going to see more arrests not just because marijuana use may be greater, but we train more law enforcement than ever to detect marijuana,” Davis said.

Many attendees of the conference said enforcement is only a small part of the problem. It’s more about education.

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