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Published November 01, 2018
Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of adults in Wyoming believe that driving under the influence of marijuana is less dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a new survey by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center (WYSAC) at the University of Wyoming.
Additionally, 9 percent of adults in Wyoming believe that driving under the influence of prescription opioid medications or prescription painkillers is less dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.
Over one-third (37 percent) of Wyoming residents say they do not know if the penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana or driving under the influence of prescription opioids are higher, lower or the same as driving under the influence of alcohol.
“There is definitely a knowledge gap among Wyoming residents regarding the penalties associated with driving under the influence of marijuana or opioids,” says Brian Harnisch, a senior research scientist at WYSAC. “Less than a third of surveyed adults correctly responded that the penalties are the same as driving under the influence of alcohol.”
Additionally, 65 percent of adults in Wyoming believe it is more difficult for law enforcement to detect “drugged driving” -- driving under the influence of marijuana or opioids, for example -- than it is to detect drunken driving.
“We want people to know these substances are detectable by law enforcement; officers know what they are looking for,” says Rhea Parsons, project coordinator for the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police (WASCOP). “Not only are they formally trained to detect drug use, but they encounter it enough in their work to recognize it when it’s happening.”
The survey was conducted May 25-June 4, yielding 393 responses from residents on WYSAC’s WyoSpeaks Panel of Wyoming Citizens, a response rate of 41 percent. The margin of error for the distribution of responses on any individual survey question for surveys of this size is plus or minus 5 percentage points. Men and women from all age groups are represented, and all counties in Wyoming are proportionally represented in the survey sample. The final survey data have been weighted to reflect the actual population distribution in Wyoming on these key demographic characteristics. The survey was funded by WASCOP and AdBay.
Complete survey results, including results for additional questions not presented here, are available at https://wysac.uwyo.edu/wysac/reports/View/6671.