The Colorado Department of Transportation has launched a wide-ranging multi-media campaign intended to stop stoned motorists from getting behind the wheel. It's simple slogan: "Drive high, get a DUI."
At this point, stats showing the scope of the stoned driving problem or if it's been increasing don't exist. But CDOT wants to get out in front of the issue via advertising that blends a light touch with some tougher messaging. See videos, posters and more below.
This isn't the first time CDOT has tackled the topic. Back in August 2011, the department launched a drugged-driving campaign that pulled no punches. We've got several examples of the earlier effort below, but here's a poster that was intended to be placed in medical-marijuana dispensaries.
In contrast, here's a poster from the new campaign:
The "Drive high, get a DUI" videos echo the soft-sell imagery above. We've shared the entire collection in this post, but here's a fifteen-second example that echos the poster:
At the same time, however, CDOT has issued graphics featuring what department spokeswoman Emily Wilfong describes as frequently asked questions -- and the tone is considerably less chuckle-inducing. Here's one example:
How did CDOT arrive at this combination of messages? It was a long process.
Continue for more about the "Drive high, get a DUI" campaign, including additional photos and videos. Wilfong says the new campaign "differs quite drastically" from the previous drugged-driving campaign, because "we're treating it on a bigger scale" -- an approach epitomized by the PSAs, which will run for four weeks starting on March 10. Here's another example:
To arrive at the campaign's tone, Wilfong says "we did focus groups to determine the best messaging for our target audience. We did two with recreational users, one with medical marijuana users, and we also worked with industry professionals" -- most notably Michael Elliott of the Marijuana Industry Group.
At these sit-downs, Wilfong continues, "we asked about their behaviors in terms of driving and consuming marijuana, and we also tested three different types of messages: informational-based, enforcement-based and humor-based. And what they really gravitated toward was more of an informational message. The enforcement message got feedback that it leaned toward making it seem like recriminalization -- and some of the focus-group members felt the humor-based messages didn't really apply to them; there were stoners eating pizza and playing Mario Kart."
Wilfong acknowledges that "there is still humor" in the final clips, "but it's more witty humor. They take typical situations someone might be in while they're consuming marijuana instead of Cheech and Chong stoner behavior."
Here's a third example:
"Basically," Wilfong believes, the videos "are saying marijuana is now legal, but driving under the influence isn't."
This last fact isn't as well-known as many observers think, Wilfong maintains. "We also did a phone survey of 800 Coloradans, and that showed us similar things to what the focus groups told us anecdotally -- that there's less awareness DUI in Colorado includes marijuana."
Indeed, state law has established an intoxication limit of 5 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, per one milliliter of blood -- something mentioned in another new FAQ:
But the nanogram limit isn't a focus for CDOT right now because "marijuana isn't really like alcohol," Wilfong says. "With alcohol, you can say a woman of a certain weight who consumes a certain amount of beverages in a certain time will be intoxicated. But you can be over the limit with marijuana after one hit. So we've got some posters we're going to be distributing to dispensaries that say that."
In this way, CDOT hopes to inform another group that has an incomplete understanding of Colorado laws -- those who live elsewhere but have traveled to the state to consume. "Unfortunately, with stage one of the campaign, we can't reach everybody," Wilfong acknowledges. "But we do want to make sure people driving into our state have access to this information, too."
Continue to see more "Drive high, get a DUI" videos, plus additional posters from the 2011 campaign: Here are the thirty-second versions of the PSAs....
...and more posters from the 2011 drugged-driving campaign:
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Media archive circa August 2011: "Drugged driving campaign targets medical marijuana patients who drive stoned."